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 »


The Quincunx – a Geometric Representation of Christ in Majesty

16 03 2011

One of my hopes for the cultural renewal is the revival of a Christian form of geometric patterned art. With this in mind I have done my best to study past work, and try to discern the principles that underlie its creation. I wrote about resources that help in this respect in a previous article, here.

If tasked with the design of an ornate sanctuary floor now, for example, how might one go about it? 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 »

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.

BBC TV show on the Cosmati pavement

5 11 2010

This was recently brought to my notice by Strat Caldecott in his Beauty in Education blog. The BBC art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon discusses the floor and its current restoration. It has some very interesting shots of the 13th century Westminster Pavement and refreshingly, he quite happy to refer to the cosmological aspect of its design (although always as though it is a historical detail, rather than still part of the Catholic understanding of the world).

Watch the video here

Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

12th century Christian geometric art

5 05 2010

Some readers will already be aware of the Christian tradition of geometric and patterned art (see longer articles in the section Liturgy, Number, Proportion on the archive site). This was an adaptation of the patterned geometric art that we see in the pre-Christian classical period. TMC is, in a small way. The Way of Beauty class, students reproduce some of the patterns seen at the Romanesque Cappella Palatina in Sicily. Read the rest of this entry »