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Tamsin Williams - Kindred Flight

Tamsin Williams was commissioned to create Kindred Flight in the narthex of Guildford Cathedral

During her residency Williams recorded memories of the Cathedral guides and filmed two local gymnasts from Woking Gymnastic Club. The soundtrack was made in collaboration with sound artist Lewis Williams.

Williams interviewed the Cathedral’s guides, asking them what their most memorable flight in an aeroplane was, and whether they could describe the first time they flew in one. One man described aerodynamics. It is an abrupt awakening to the environment, a scientific language in a church. It describes what we rely on to literally transport our bodies great distances.

Kindred Flight combines the imagined and the real. The work is inspired by the many doves and angels ascending and descending throughout the Cathedral. On entering the narthex a diptych of projections is seen. In one projection a figure soars slowly up in an arc on one side, and slowly descends on the other. She appears to pass through the walls like a spirit. Her effortless looped movement encourages meditation upon the audible stories of experiences of flying in aeroplanes. The quadraphonic sound can be heard alternately, from a lofty space above head-height, and from speakers at floor level. ‘I’ve seen too many bits of broken aircraft in my working life to enjoy flying really’, and other anecdotes about the second World War followed, for example: ‘I flew up, and apart from the pilot, obviously, there was me, six mules and no parachute!’

Leaving the installation you walk into the nave, tall and imposing, you look up in reverence, it could easily house an aircraft. Edward Maufe the architect, designed Guildford Cathedral in 1932, inspired by aircraft hangars, and created a suspended space. This is particularly significant as the Cathedral was built during the first century of commercial air travel.

In life we often yearn to escape, to let our imaginations fly. Now the technology exists to take us there and see the earth from many perspectives. Kindred Flight is a reminder of science and technology in contrast to the mystery of spirituality and the afterlife. The work is cyclical and speaks of life and death. It is intangible, created with light and sound, media we cannot touch.

Kindred Flight was exhibited at Guildford Cathedral from:

6th November to 2nd December 2000

Williams's work was part of the Art 2000 Projects in Sacred Places where five arrtists were curator selected, in collaboration, with the venues, to make new works for five major churches in the south of England. This was important because it reflected Art and Sacred Places's (then known as Art 2000) desire to build a new partnership between the church and artists and, in doing so, to match the best contemporary standards and practice for art events.

The Catalogue for Art 2000 Projects in Sacred Places containing text contributions by Sacha Craddock and Father Friedhelm Mennekes is available from Art and Sacred Places.

Project funders and supporters included: The Arts Council, The Jerwood Charitable Foundation, The Jerusalem Trust, The National Lottery Millennium Festival Fund, Southern Arts, South East Arts, Woking Gymnastics Club

Art and Sacred Places - MMXVI-MMXVII