King’s College Chapel
Contemporary fine art photographs of King’s College Chapel Cambridge, including images from up in a cherry picker and of candlelit evensong. The ‘FOCUSED on King’s College Chapel’ book is the result of my tangible and visceral adventures within this living, breathing, monumental, sacred space.
“The images here capture the reality of a place of transcendent beauty and where real things happen. It’s the Chapel I know and love, and I know it better and love it more for having shared Sara’s musings.”
“I love this. The light is superb, an active agent in its own right, especially the dapples and speckles. Not just an adjunct of form… [This book] must be the most handsome tribute ever paid to a single building. With its blend of words and diverse visual voices, it is an Alleluia Chorus.”
Martin Kemp, Professor of History of Art, Trinity College, Oxford
“This series contemplates the balance of serenity – between the expansive architecture and its details – between my former career in science and new career in art – between formalism and the sublime – between visual art and poetry – between abstract ambiguity and transparency. These photographs and words together are an attempt to encompass this balancing act.
At the most fundamental level, I simply seek to illuminate the unique and remarkable qualities that enable the chapel at King’s College to become King’s Chapel.”
excerpt from Focused on King’s College Chapel
This photographic series arose while I was photographing the library at King’s College Cambridge as part of my large Illuminating Cambridge Libraries series. I learned that while King’s College was founded in 1441, the current library building is Victorian. So where was the earlier library?
This turned into the opportunity to photograph the ‘old library’ itself in the chapel vestries. In these preparation rooms for the King’s College Chapel choir and clergy, a few of the 16th century bookcases remain in situ, but most of them were deconstructed and repurposed, with some parts turned into choir stalls in the main part of the chapel (see ‘Repurposed Bookshelf End’).
From this experience, The Rev’d Dr Stephen Cherry invited me to continue with a further series in the Chapel itself. And so began my aesthetic stroll through a meditative, historical, focused photographic adventure. (Rev’d Cherry also wrote the introduction to my Focused on King’s College Chapel book.)
Fan Vaulting at King’s College Chapel
Home of the world’s largest fan vaulted ceiling, King’s College Chapel was constructed over about 100 years. It was started by Henry VI, continued by Henry VII, and finally completed in 1515 by Henry VIII.
Twelve fans each rise 23 metres up towards the heavens and impressively span nearly 13 metres in width. These fans soar above intricate stonework carvings of crowns and roses, fleur de lis, dragons and greyhounds, which symbolise the marriage of the houses of Tudor and Beaufort.
Stained Glass Windows at King’s College Chapel
Large stained glass windows adorn King’s College Chapel Cambridge. Twelve windows are on each side and two on the ends. In 1531, the glaziers completed the stained glass windows. They remained in place until 1940/1 when they were removed due to the war. Stored in various places around Cambridge, the originals were reinstalled in 1948.
King’s College Chapel Choir
The King’s College Chapel Christmas Day service is arguably the most famous church service worldwide. Broadcast to millions each year, the choir performs the classic Christmas concert. The Chapel is also open regularly for evensong and other services.
For Candlemas 2020, I had the unprecedented opportunity to sit in on two rehearsals and photograph the candlelit choir stalls. The rehearsal looking east and rehearsal looking west, then with all the candles lit for Candlemas looking east and Candlemas looking west.
I hope that these images evoke in you some of the same wonder, meditation, and serenity that I discovered within this spiritual and historic English treasure.