I am just back from a misty bike ride – clears my head and gets me ready for the day. It also gives me time to reflect on how privileged we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world. We cycle along parts of the Green Circle Walk, a 12-mile circular route around Exeter, exploring its green belts and spaces. Within just a few minutes, we are away from the busy little city and in the quieter outskirts – the green hills are within easy reach and yet I know I’ll be back home for breakfast in a few short minutes. The best of both worlds – town and country. Exeter Cathedral is a bit like that, too. For some, it is like a parish church, their regular place of worship. For others, it’s a beautiful building steeped in history and a centre of cultural happenings. I go there for contemplation, to meditate and to meet some of the loveliest and most interesting people in Exeter. Never a better chance to chat with a wide variety of the cathedral’s audience than at one of their community lunches. The volunteers must have planned and prepared for the event weeks in advance, and staff, clergy and volunteers alike joined in the hosting of well over a hundred people, with young talents entertaining us with musical interludes. After so many months without the chance to mingle and exchange ideas in person, it appears to me that all of us were eager to embrace the opportunity to contribute in whatever way we could to make the lunch a celebration of community spirit.
There’ll be another exciting opportunity to exchange ideas and meet in person on 24th October, 1-4pm. We’d like to invite you to the exhibition launch of our specially commissioned artwork inspired by St Nicholas Priory, Exeter’s oldest building, itself. Art historian and local artist Sarah Spencer, MPhil, Cantab (2018), has taken the time to experience the priory in different seasons and seen the stones change with the weather, the light, and time itself. Starting with rubbings and exploring the different textures of the stones, she has explored the building inside and out. With slate from the building (sourced from left-overs), she has experimented with different methods of artistic expression to capture the changing nature of our building and its components. Informed by research into the history of the building blocks of our priory, she has settled on using the slates themselves as her canvas, and joined us for our Tudor Re-enactment Days to work in situ. The exhibition will be in the undercroft and is wheel-chair accessible. It is free for all to view and enjoy the creative and playful nature of Sarah’s approach to tackling such big topics as climate change, the passing of time, and finally, the importance of art and heritage for our sense of identity. Sarah exhibits widely across Devon and the wider South West, and this exhibition will be on until our Christmas show Humbug! starts in December. Find out more about her on Twitter @saspencerexeter and Instagram @sarah_spencers_artwork. And bring your children and grandchildren along – Sarah’s work is accessible and expressive, and we have artistic trails and activities for those inspired by her work to create their own bit of artwork.
And then it’s half-term, of course. Busy for us with children’s workshops, musical interludes, and our evening opening for All Hallows’ Eve with storyteller David Heathfield, who will be delighting young and old with folktales of the harvest season. But I’ll be back before then to tell you more about it all.
Until then, I look forward to seeing you at our exhibition launch on Sunday, 24th October.
Be in touch and stay safe, Judith
Dr J Morgane, manager
St Nicholas Priory, Exeter