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Arts Council England awarded R&D funding to Braunarts to research and develop Terry Braun’s No Shelter From the Storm project (NSFTS).
Exterior of Ely CathedralCloister of Worcester Cathedral
Whilst churches are traditionally considered places of spiritual sanctuary as well as safe refuge from the dangers of the world, not even the massive stone walls of a cathedral can protect us from the growing threat of Climate Change. As we learn to see our world differently, a lag is appearing between our changing perceptions of and our understanding of the natural world on one hand, and on the other hand, how that world is traditionally depicted in these cathedrals and the way that ‘nature’ is currently portrayed by mainstream media. NSFTS will explore these ideas by offering the public an alternative to TV and mainstream media – i.e. enormous video images of catastrophic weather events projected onto the stone interiors (and some exteriors) of nine cathedrals. This specially created imagery will be supported by contemporary music played on the cathedral organ (a full description of the ideas behind the project are shown towards the bottom of this page).
Braunarts have now applied for full project funding from Arts Council England and await the decision as to whether they will be funded for a 2010 - 2011 UK tour of No Shelter from the Storm. The tour would launch in Sheffield Cathedral in June 2010 and continue to Wakefield Cathedral, Worcester Cathedral, Winchester Cathedral, Ripon Cathedral, Southwark Cathedral, St John's Cathedral in Norwich, Ely Cathedral and Exeter Cathedral.
Any other Cathedrals, Abbeys or large churches wishing to hire the No Shelter From the Storm installation after the planned tour (from summer 2011 onwards), are invited to contact Terry Braun at Braunarts for details of the costs and logistics by emailing terry [at] braunarts [dot] com
We are very keen to work closely with partner cathedrals to support and encourage creative ways to interpret the climate change themes of No Shelter From the Storm through educational and community work in each location.
Braunarts met with The British Antarctic Survey (BAS), to consider ways in which BAS can provide support to No Shelter From the Storm (NSFTS). BAS have kindly offered support to the project by providing video footage as well as providing an INSET-like series of sessions for cathedral educational staff to work with the BAS scientists exploring the environmental issues and stimulating ideas for NSFTS educational activities.
Braunarts met with Tipping Point, to discuss educational collaborations and ways in which the shared intentions of both organisations about raising awareness of the problems and potential actions that can be undertaken in relation to climate change could be creatively considered. Tipping Point have confirmed that they would like to work with Braunarts in partnership to deliver a range of learning activities at each location, such as panel discussions about climate change involving scientists and artists.
Column fossils in Norwich St John Cathedral Pulpitum at Ripon Cathedral
A summary of the ideas that drive No Shelter from the Storm -
No Shelter from the Storm will explore these ideas of spiritual sanctuary and safe refuge from the dangers of the world by combining the following elements.
The architectural context in which we experience the images
NSFTS will be an evocative invitation to consider the complex issue of climate change through the filter of one central question: Can we really control nature?
Cathedrals and churches were brightly painted before the reformation – traditionally with symbolic depictions of the natural world. Many Christian images and metaphors (as well as the images and metaphors of most other beliefs) were and still are rooted in nature: the true vine, the tree of life, fish & fishermen, images of self-sacrifice, the cleansing water of baptism, etc. Yet many of the realities that underpin these symbols have taken on a different connotation in the 21st Century: vines withering from lack of water, forests being destroyed, oceans over-fished and fisherman out of work, dead birds and H5N1, seas that threatens to engulf our towns and cities - water that doesn't purify and heal, but brings death and disease.
In many ways this installation can be seen as a 21st Century method of digitally “re-painting” Cathedrals with depictions of our current confused relationship with nature – a relationship that is clearly in need of serious rethinking. However, in his desire to juxtapose the historical and contemporary, Terry is not setting out to simply up-date these icons (e.g. providing new Flood images for the 21st century) – he is asking the audience to question the relationship between the images being projected and the stone and the form, function and iconography of the cathedrals housing the installation.
This relationship is vital for the impact of the work – and not just the visual and conceptual/historical relationship. The day-time interiors of cathedrals tend to offer a mixture of light and shadow determined by sunlight / the time of year and the weather conditions. So the projections will live in these spaces overlaid with natural light that is uncontrolled and uncontrollable – sunlight that will move across the interiors over the course of a day, fading into evening’s low ambient light composed of a few electric lights and candlelight glinting off gilded and painted surfaces.
The visual motif of water will run through these projections, via footage of hurricanes, torrential rains, floods, rising oceans, melting glaciers, swollen rivers, etc. We want to show the powerful impact that water can have on our fragile lives, and in particular its power to erode and even wash away the very stone that these images are being projected onto. These enormous 10-metre high images will also explore humanity’s confused and often anxious relationship with the natural world – ranging from our awe and wonder at the beauty of a lightning storm to the deeply held fear that these powerful natural forces are threats to our existence.
These images will be drawn from BBC and British Antarctic Survey archives and augmented by footage that Terry will shoot on HDV specifically for NSFTS. Many of these images will be familiar to the audience from television, cinema and digital media. This is deliberate - it is our belief that the ways in which the natural world, and climate change in particular, are treated by many contemporary media have reduced the emotional power of these images, blunting our feeling for the importance of the looming crises of climate change. change. In NSFTS, Terry is exploring a new way to visually depict climate change – a way that would enable these images to acquire new meaning and thereby to reclaim their power to stimulate and inspire.
The relationship with the sound that will accompany these images
With the almost haptic experience of the resonating sounds of a cathedral organ combining with the enormous projections, we will have the opportunity to offer a multi-sensory experience to the audience, producing an emotional as well as thoughtful response to the work.
Most television documentaries and news reports (‘radio with pictures’) tend to communicate their ideas primarily via words. These words are designed to determine audience response to the images. It is rarely the other way around. Different words re-synchronised with the same powerful images, or even removing the words completely would create a very different experience – one that the audience would need to actively engage with in order to interpret.
By freeing these images from their meaning-dominating words, the audience will be able to reinterpret them and discover new meanings. The Contemporary organ music accompanying the projections will be created to encourage this process of re-interpretation and a re-discovery of meaning in the imagery.
Extremely Resonant Music
We propose to launch the NSFTS tour at Sheffield Cathedral in June 2010 to maximise the impact
Why choose cathedrals as locations for No Shelter from the Storm?
Cathedrals and churches were brightly painted before the reformation – traditionally with symbolic depictions of the natural world. A strange and mysterious example of this can be found in the Green Man imagery in Norwich Cathedral. Many Christian (as well as most other religion's) images and metaphors were and still are rooted in nature: the true vine, the tree of life, fish & fishermen, the self-sacrificing 'pelican', the cleansing water of baptism, etc. Yet many of the realities that underpin these symbols have taken on a different connotation in the 21st Century: vines withering from lack of water, forests being destroyed, over-fishing and fisherman out of work, dead birds and H5N1, seas that threatens to engulf our towns and cities - water that doesn't purify and heal, but brings disease and death. In many ways this installation can be seen as a 21s Century method of digitally “re-painting” Cathedrals with depictions of our current relationship with nature – a relationship that is clearly in need of serious rethinking.
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The Number of Cathedral Venues
We are pleased to say that we have received much greater interest in the project from potential cathedral hosts than we had anticipated. In this R&D period, we have unfortunately had a limited amount of time to visit locations and assess the Cathedrals as potential hosts. The cathedrals listed in our R&D report submitted at the end of March 2009 are shown in the left hand column above.
There is a limit as to how much funding we can apply to Arts Council England for as part of our UK tour in 2010 / 2011, however, we invite any Cathedrals / Abbeys / large Churches to contact us if they wish to find out the costs of hiring in No Shelter From the Storm after this tour ends in summer 2011.
Cathedrals who have made initial enquiries so far include:
All images and video on this No Shelter From The Storm website were created by and are owned by Terry Braun, © Braunarts 2009 except for demo low-resolution imagery projected onto Cathedrals which is copyright BBC and Getty.