Simon Brewster's second artwork contrasts with another figurative sculpture in the vicinity of the cathedral, eliciting an intriguing response from Tim Welton.
Jessica blinked her eyes and tried to waken her senses. It wasn’t that she found the services in the Citadel boring; on the contrary she mostly looked forward to the rambling stories read from the old brown leather book; but today she felt as if a fog was lying heavy in her head. The slow voice of the minister plodded on and showed no sign of being able to burn away the numbing haze, so Jessica resigned herself to drifting in the currents of the half-sung language; that strange vernacular that only the devout use. Ancient and arcane phrases, which sound familiar, but resist clear comprehension and so lend an impression of awe and solidity.
Today the congregation were being reminded of the story of the Sacrificial Council. One of the four cornerstones of the New Religion. She looked around the Citadel. There must be a statue or painting of it somewhere. There were in most Citadels. Her mother would have shuddered; she who never really appreciated the beauty of the five branched gibbet. She thought it was a gloomy image and she couldn’t understand why a religion could be based on something so ghoulish. Jessica understood. Every religion has a dark core, the acknowledgement and acceptance of which allows us to see the beauty in the world. She smiled at the memory of the countless times she had won that particular argument with her mother; and then frowned as she momentarily doubted whether the conviction was actually her own or whether it had been placed there during the long Citadel study classes.
Her eyes fell on the lower left chancel step. There it was. The statue with the blue core and copper branches and the disgraced Council in their traditional white hanging from the twining coil of the metal gallows tree.
She loved the name of the five council members. Tod, Rob, Slave, Bunter and Cray
But as she stared at the icon she was forced to blink her eyes again, although this time not to ward off her drowsiness but to check whether what she thought she saw was true. Why had she never noticed this before? She knew the tale by heart. How the five council members had taken the town to the brink of destruction; how five men had used their power and position to plunder the copper from beneath the town for their own profit leaving the inhabitants broken and reeling; but also how five men, when confronted with their transgression, chose this unique and honourable form of mutual sacrifice to show penance to their wronged people.
She was sure that she had looked before at the small but perfect representation of the story, which now stood on the lower left chancel steps. But what she had never noticed was that here, one of the disgraced men had been replaced by a woman…
Simon Brewster has an MA in Fine Art from Central St Martins College of Art & Design. He exhibits widely, including solo shows at W3 Gallery, Exposure Gallery, Pitzhanger Manor and the Royal Institute in London. This year he has exhibited in Thought Atlas and Cabinet at Espacio Gallery in London. See www.simonbrewsterart.com and Instagram simonbrewster99
Tim Welton is a theatre practitioner who, as an actor and director has worked on numerous productions including Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (Royal National Theatre) London Road (Royal National Theatre) Dancing at Lughnasa (Garrick Theatre) and Cabaret (Lyric and Savoy Theatre and National Tours).
He has written for theatre (Carnival UK) and online digital media (BBC Radio Jam) and is currently developing and writing new musical commissions with Three Pin Productions, the brainchild of West End Performer Ruthie Henshall and Musical Director Paul Schofield.