Salisbury Cathedral has marked its 800th anniversary with a virtual version of its largest contemporary art exhibition for nearly two decades. 

Salisbury Cathedral's online exhibition

Source: BNPS Zachary Culpin

The Stairway installation by Danny Lane.

Three years in the planning, Celebrating 800 years of Spirit and Endeavour, was scheduled to open on 25th March as part of a series of events throughout the year celebrating the cathedral’s move from Old Sarum and the development of Salisbury.

Fortunately there was enough time to scan the entire exhibition and the team have now made it available for the public to view online. The collection brings together work from some of the most important and influential contemporary artists of the 20th and 21st century, including Antony Gormley, Shirazeh Houshiary, Henry Moore, Grayson Perry, Conrad Shawcross, Stanza and Mark Wallinger. 

Jacquiline Creswell, Salisbury Cathedral’s Visual Arts Adviser and curator said: “It does strike me as profound that commemorating the placing of a stone 800 years ago, something so physical and monumental at the time, is now taking place on a virtual, online platform – something the original cathedral builders could not have imagined.

“The exhibition was conceived as a celebration of the human spirit and human endeavour, manifested through the faith and skill that drove the Cathedral builders and their community on.”

“That shared humanity and capacity to create and endure holds today and, whether online and offline, I hope this exhibition encourages viewers to look forward with hope.”

Salisbury Cathedral's online exhibition

Source: BNPS Zachary Culpin

Crucifixion 8 by Craigie Aitchison.

The move from Old Sarum was politically, logistically, commercially and spiritually audacious, made in defiance of the king’s soldiers garrisoned at Old Sarum, with a construction plan that would challenge even modern, technologically advanced builders. The main body of the cathedral was completed in just 38 years, and within a few decades the city around it had become one of the most influential and populous in the country.

The virtual tour consists of two parts:

  • The external tour created using ‘panorama’ technology with click-through thumbnail links that take the viewer to the relevant catalogue page and offer an opportunity to watch 360 videos of each piece.
  • The internal exhibition which allows the visitors enter the cathedral virtually, watch a video introduction from Jacquiline Creswell, the curator, and navigate their way around using thumbnails of each work with links to the relevant catalogue pages. Viewers can also explore the virtual space, enjoying the context in which the art is set.

For the tour and to see the catalogue click here