The Proportions of the Ark of the Covenant

14 04 2011

And how it can be a principle of design of buildings. Most of my reading of scripture comes through the liturgy – that is the readings from both the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. I do my best to do some lectio divina each day (reading Shawn Tribe’s wonderful piece on the ‘Four Pillars’ of the new liturgical movement has given a recent boost to this effort) and even for this I draw on the liturgy, tending to use the readings from Mass for that day. What is amazing is how often the scripture or the commentary by the Church Fathers speaks to me about something that is on my mind. Read the rest of this entry »


Excavation of 1,500 year-old Church in Israel

26 02 2011

Here are some photos of a recently excavated church in Israel, close to Jerusalem, that is thought to have been active between the 5th and 7th centuries AD. it has appeared in the a number of news sites. The account by AP, here comments on the floor mosaics of a lamb, cockerels, lions, fish and peacocks. When I saw the photographs, the geometric patterns in the floor design caught me eye too. Read the rest of this entry »

Glory Be to God for the Brompton Oratory

15 01 2011

The magazine Dappled Things asked me to write about an occasion when I had been affected by the beauty of a sacred place. I decided to write about my first ever experience of the liturgy at the London Oratory (also known at the Brompton Oratory). This sublime experience opened the door first to my conversion and then, beyond that inspired me to try to contribute to the re-establishment of a Catholic culture of beauty rooted in the liturgy. (I have always had an attitude that if you aim high then even if you only make it half way, that that’s still quite good.)

Normally people have to subscribe to their online edition, but they decided to make an exception for this special edition. It is one of the features under the heading Sacred Places.

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Summary of the Kenrick Seminary talks on art

28 12 2010

By Mark Scott Abeln on his Rome of the West blog For any who are wondering whether or not it’s worth the effort to watch them, here is a summary of the four talks at the Kenrick-Glennon seminary by Mark Scott Abeln. His blog is worth a look. He is a skilled photographer and he has insights how the principles I have been articulating in art and architecture apply in the art of photographer. The ‘Rome of the West’ for those of you, like me, who didn’t know is his home town of St Louis. Photograph: the Cathedral Basilica of  St Louis, in St Louis, Missouri.

Four talks on Sacred Art at Kenrick Seminary, St Louis

22 12 2010

This autumn I was invited to address the seminarians at the Kenrick Seminary in St Louis. I gave four lectures on sacred art and liturgy. Here are four podcasts, posted on the seminary website. They are enhanced –  you hear my voice and see the slides I am describing.

Harmony and Proportion – linking culture to the cult

Iconographic art

Baroque art

Gothic art

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How Golden is the Golden Section?

23 07 2010

Whenever I talk about proportion and harmony in art and architecture, many assume that I am referring to the proportion known as the Golden Section (often indicated by the Greek letter Φ). When I started to investigate these things, I assumed that the Golden Section was important too. However, to my surprise, my investigations lead me to believe that although it was known to past societies and cultures, it was not as important as we assume today. In fact, the idea that it was used by the ancient Greeks, the medievals or masters of the High Renaissance is, as far as I can work out, largely a myth. I have described before, herehere and here, how important symbolic number, proportion and harmony (expressed numerically or geometrically) was for artists and architects in the Christian tradition and how they were seen as a manifestation of the cosmic liturgy. But it seems that the Golden Section, Φ, isn’t part of that tradition. Read the rest of this entry »

Proportion Adds Value to Property in Boston

28 05 2010

We can make a Beacon Hill anywhere This past weekend I drove down to Boston from southern New Hampshire to meet a friend who was visiting for the weekend.  As we walked around town we wandered into the Beacon Hill area. This is the old heart of the town and full of elegant 18th-century terraced homes. They are built in a variation of the style that in England we would call Georgian. I’m not sure what it is called here, perhaps ‘colonial’ style? These are right at the top end of the price range for property in Boston. Read the rest of this entry »