April 4th, 2007
The exhibition of the great model of Lutyens’ project for Liverpool Roman Catholic Cathedral ends on 22 April (Walker Art Gallery website). The building is stupendous: buildings, pylons and aedicules piled up and punctuated by saints mounted on columns and balancing on ledges. The form is then covered in an order of stark, black punctured openings, raised geometrical panels and baroque niches all unified by a layering of contrasting masonry. The sculpted figures, empty niches and distant forms combine to give the impression of a building occupied by more than the congregation.
In my opinion, the presentation of the model is poor. The different scales of architectural form and detail are bleached by the light blasting from all directions. The style of display is perhaps prompted by the priorities of the Museum: the finished model is presented as a technical achievement in restoration and conservation rather than a representation of a building of great formal and emotional power.