Pilgrims by John Williams
Left to right Austin Cornish (Bury Developments), Melanie Lesser (Abbey 1000 C.I.C), John Williams (Sculptor), Matt Fordham (Bury Developments)
The latest Abbey 1000 sculpture to be displayed on the plinth in the crypt of the ruins of the Abbey of St Edmund is by Suffolk wood Carver John Williams.
Many residents and visitors saw John carving the sculpture from pine donated by Nowton Park outside opposite the aviary in the Abbey Gardens over six months in 2021 during the covid pandemic.
The sculpture, part of the celebrations to mark 1000 years of the Abbey of St Edmunds in Bury St Edmunds, shows a variety of Medieval pilgrims who came through the centuries to visit the shrine of St Edmund in the Abbey, John has created the shape of the sculpture to reflect the contours of the ruins.
Photo: Mark Cordell
John Williams said: ‘I carved an Edmund figure before lock-down and after that experience I really wanted to be with people not in my little isolated studio, so I jumped at the opportunity to go back to the Abbey Gardens and make a whole new people-based carving. Each figure is carved and hollowed out revealing the fragile nature of Faith itself. the best time to see this group is when the sun is out as it’s rays cast a different light on each pilgrim, I do hope residents and visitors enjoy it’
Melanie Lesser, from Abbey 1000 C.I.C, said: "‘We are delighted John took the commission and created such a thought-provoking sculpture. We are grateful to Bury Developments who transported and installed the sculpture on the plinth. The sculpture will be on display for a month."
A monthly changing display of sculptures will be on display between May and November in the crypt within the Abbey ruins, where the shrine of St Edmund would have stood, organised by Melanie Lesser.
Schools, West Suffolk College and artists are being invited to create the artworks on a theme of the story of the Abbey and St Edmund.
The first sculpture was 'The Monk' - a 7ft 6ins steel monk designed by Nigel Kaines and created by Kevin Baldwin of Designs on Metal.
Thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players for their support of this event.
Find out more about the Abbey 1000 Sculpture Exhibition at www.abbeyofstedmund1000.co.uk.
Creating the Pilgrims Sculpture. Video: by kind permission of BBC Radio Suffolk
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