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The novel use of Buildings – A thought provoking installation at St Albans Cathedral


The Built Environment



Ordinarily you would expect to see an artistic installation in a gallery, museum or building for the arts. Although in recent years, the facades of buildings, through guerrilla projections, have been used to convey brand messages and for advertising - some of which have caused quite a stir. One example is the backlash companies have experienced from using the Parliamentary UNESCO World Heritage site as a backdrop for advertising. As a national treasure, it has been deemed that it should only be used for projections of national importance or significance. content for poppyfields 1 Advertising deemed inappropriate : Well received Olympics 2012 light show However, some artists seek to push boundaries, creating spectacular displays in buildings you wouldn’t think possible. A recent installation saw a thought provoking, sensitive and sympathetic projection commemorating the lives of those who gave their lives fighting for the country. Autumn 2018 marks the centenary of the armistice of World War I. A collaboration of artists, led by Peter Walker (Artistic Director of Lichfield Cathedral), came up with the concept of the Poppy Fields – a sound and light presentation which was installed in Guildford, Lichfield, St Albans and Oxford Cathedrals, for visitors to experience free of charge for a limited time. Selectaglaze was one of a handful of local companies who sponsored the initiative at St Albans Cathedral. Supporting the local community is important to the company, so we were delighted to have some involvement.  The Cathedral was transformed – it was breath taking. Projections of poppies adorned the walls and vaulted ceilings, presenting a vast sea of red when you entered. st albans installation 2 Ethereal experience walking into projected poppies, in candlelight, in a Cathedral A sound composition was especially created to accompany the installation by David Harper and four readings of World War One poems were played by actor Eddie Redmayne. In addition, the names of 2000 local people to St Albans who have lost their lives in conflicts whilst serving in Britain’s Armed forces, were projected onto a wall of the cathedral, all of which were publically submitted for inclusion. st albans projection Projection using the altar as a backdrop The project grew great attention and saw thousands of visitors over the two days it was open to the public – a great outcome for the vision, inspiration and hard work of the artists. It was an awe inspiring project in an unusual, yet perfect setting. "One hundred years on from the end of World War One, Poppy Field is an opportunity to become immersed in sound and light and truly reflect and focus our thoughts” comments Peter Walker.