Peter Walker’s Peace Doves Soar in English Cathedrals

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Detail of Peace Doves Art Installation by Peter Walker at Chichester cathedral. Photo by A. Howse
Detail of Peace Doves Art Installation by Peter Walker at Chichester cathedral. Photo by A. Howse

This autumn an immersive art installation by UK sculptor Peter Walker has flown into to medieval Chichester cathedral to inspire West Sussex residents and international visitors alike. It is perfect timing for raising our eyes to the heavens and reflecting on how to encourage world harmony in these difficult times.

The wonderfully visually striking work comprises “fifteen thousand handmade paper doves suspended above the cathedrals historic Nave.”

Schools, local community groups and members of the public have written individual messages of ‘peace, love and hope’ that are all contained within each of the paper bird’s wings.

Peace Doves Installation in Chichester Cathedral by Peter Walker - view from main aisle. Photo by A.Howse
Peace Doves Installation in Chichester Cathedral by Peter Walker – view from main aisle. Photo by A.Howse

From the 30th September and until mid-November 2023 Peter Walker’s immersive sculptural artwork has been on display to the public.

Visitors to Chichester Cathedral can see the temporary avian themed exhibition every day and whenever the church is open. During services visiting local and tourists will be invited to join the worship or stand at the back and admire the original piece featuring throngs of handcrafted hanging birds. Spending time within the 948-year-old cathedral is free and donations to the building and its maintenance are very welcome.

There were a selection of special events and talks throughout the season that required booking in advance on the website. (1)

Peace Doves by Peter Walker Art Installation at Chichester Cathedral, view from main aisle centre. Photo by A.Howse
Peace Doves by Peter Walker Art Installation at Chichester Cathedral, view from main aisle centre. Photo by A.Howse

Peter walker works in a variety of mediums including, paper, fabric, stone, bronze and light. Walker also works in collaboration with a company called Luxmuralis to create light installations using digital media and the type of commercial lighting that you might find in a large-scale entertainment music venue.

Images are projected onto historic buildings exteriors and ecclesiastical interiors creating interesting colourful effects that can be a permanent artistic statement. Alternatively, the ephemeral design can be changed frequently, set to music and turned off and on to meet the needs of the intended audience or the service attendees.

In a recent interview with Church Times Peter Walker explains his decision to develop his work as a light and space artist “It’s not painting by numbers. I’m not trying to make the original arches and architecture disappear: it’s creating a conduit for people, opening up an emotional pathway.”

There is a lot of division and discord amongst leaders across the globe and we head into 2024. We need artists like Peter Walker more than ever to remind us that peace, hope and love are important. The message that peace, hope and love remain key values for us all to strive for and develop, as we look for what unites us in our communities both locally and globally, whatever our religion or beliefs.

Peace Doves by Peter Walker at Chichester Cathedral, view towards entrance doors. Photo by A.Howse
Peace Doves by Peter Walker at Chichester Cathedral, view towards entrance doors. Photo by A.Howse

(1) Peace Doves, Chichester Cathedral website, 23rd November 2023 Peace Doves, Chichester Cathedral

(2) Peter Walker sculptor on Facebook 23rd November 2023 Peter Walker sculptor on Facebook

(3) Luxmuralis, projection art gallery website, 23rd November 2023 Luxmuralis, projection art gallery website

(4) ‘Peter Walker, the artist who makes light work’ Church Times, 14 April 2023 (4) ‘Peter Walker, the artist who makes light work’ Church Times