Sacred space and creative expression – the heart of our communities
This month sees the centenary of the outbreak of that most terrible of conflicts, the Great War. It seems fitting that in Cornwall the commemorations will be based around Truro Cathedral, a sacred building that many of the men killed would have known well.
A full list of the commemorative events being held in and around the Cathedral, including lectures, recitals and films can be found here: http://www.trurocathedral.org.uk/documents/Booklet8pagelowres.pdf
Pendennis Castle will also be a hub for remembrance, with a new exhibition exploring Falmouth’s wartime role https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/about/news/fortress-falmouth-new-exhibition-at-pendennis-castle-to-mark-first-world-war-centenary/
As Truro Cathedral leads these commemorations it is being supported by £50,000 of Government funding, delivered through the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund. This Fund, comprising £20 million in all, has been created to help Cathedrals with repairs bills in a year in which they will be leading the communities they serve in remembrance. Through this funding a lasting good will come from the grim anniversary of a tragedy in human affairs, as our magnificent cathedrals are preserved for future generations to enjoy. At Truro the funding will be used to repair damage to the cathedral turrets, caused by the dreadful storms we saw this February.
A few weeks ago I spoke in the House of Commons to welcome this funding, and to further highlight the way in which our church buildings fulfil not only their religious purpose, but also serve as centres for civic pride and community regeneration. Our Cathedral at Truro and our ancient churches provide safe and sacred spaces at the heart of our communities in which people can reflect and engage with the more transcendental aspects of life. Our churches are beautiful, works of art encapsulated in Cornish granite and stained glass.
Such beautiful and meaningful spaces form part of Cornwall’s wider creative and aesthetic environment, an environment which sweetens everyday life. In Parliament, in my role as Co Chair of the APPG on Arts and Wellbeing, I continue to explore and celebrate this impact of the arts on life, particularly the lives of those living with health problems. The APPG is comprised of MPs and peers from all parties who have interest on the impact the arts can have on health and general wellbeing and we are working together to highlight this impact. From providing rewarding recreation to patients with dementia, to boosting the wellbeing and confidence of people with poor mental health this impact can be considerable, bringing light into the most difficult parts of people’s lives.
I am pleased that the arts in Cornwall are now benefiting from new investment, announced by the Arts Council earlier this summer. This includes protected funding for Cornish arts organisations up until 2018 and new funds for the wonderful Hall for Cornwall, to help them move forward with exciting expansion plans. Major Museum Status has been granted to a consortium of six Cornish museums and galleries, which include Falmouth Art Gallery, the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and the Royal Cornwall Museum. This status will unlock new funding for these great institutions.
Last month I had the privilege of opening a new contribution to the Roseland’s artistic landscape, in the form of a new mosaic path leading in the newly revamped
St Mawes Recreation Ground. I serve as President of the Recreation Ground Committee and was pleased to be able to thank the team for their hard work which secured the funding for the improvements to the recreation ground and for the new mosaic path. The artist Joanna Dewfall worked with different groups from St Mawes to make the mosaic riles embedded in the footpath, including St Mawes Primary School, Roseland Brownies, St Just Church and St Mawes Parish Council. Each mosaic on the path represents a different aspect of community life and it really is a very striking and creative celebration of the community of St Mawes.
I had another opportunity to enjoy the creative life of the Roseland at the Cornwall School Games 2014 when dancers at the opening ceremony performed to music composed by pupils at Roseland College. It was a great piece, and a fittingly jubilant celebration of the fun of this major sporting competition. Pupils from the Roseland will also be contributing to one of Truro Cathedral’s Great War commemorations, a selection of art exhibits exploring the war and its impact.
It is our communal artistic life, whether cast in cathedral stone or expressed through creative endeavour, that we turn to to celebrate the most joyful times and to remember the darkest.