I've spent a good bit of time the last couple of days roaming around the Minster. I'm being more of a tourist than an artist, but I guess I can't totally help myself from drawing. There's a series of Green Men (and women) in stone carved medallions in the passage between the north transept and the chapter house. I couldn't get a good picture of my favorite ( below), so I sketched it instead. The. I did the Green Woman (above) and a Disney-worthy, somewhat bewildered looking dragon standing on the head of a slightly troll-like man.
Mostly, though, I've been looking at other people's art. The huge east window is under restoration, and several panels of the Medieval glass are down at eye level to be seen up close --- a rare and magnificent treat. Even better, it's a series based on Revelation. I love the visionary aspects of that book and illustrated it myself several years ago for the Presbyterian Church USA, so I was delighted to see a different interpretation up close and personal.
Usually Medieval glass is so high up its impossible to see anything but the most general impression of the art. I was frustrated last year at Chartres that another Revelation cycle was so hard to see.
But I had no idea the level of detail that's actually in this glass. Apparently the craftsmen were working purely to please God with the gorgeous details. There's now way all that would be visible from the floor of the cathedral.
It hurts me a bit that we'll lose all that glorious art when the windows are reinstalled. I'm thinking of the reproduction caryatids and whatnots in Athens and wishing it were possible to put up reproductions and let the originals be more fully appreciated. But I'm so very grateful I was here to see a few panels.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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