AAJ Press
Art & Public Space, Art Projects, Commissions, Digital Media, Film, Installation, sacred spaces

Bill Viola. Mary, St Paul’s Cathedral, London. September 2016

Bill viola. Mary

Bill Viola. Mary

Mary, the second permanent large-scale video installation for St Paul’s Cathedral created by the internationally acclaimed artist Bill Viola, will be inaugurated in the North Quire aisle of the cathedral on 8 September 2016 to coincide with the Feast of Mary (Press View: 9 September 09:00 to 10:00). Mary has been conceived as a companion piece to Martyrs (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) which was unveiled in the South Quire Aisle of the cathedral in 2014. The installations Mary and Martyrs are installed on metal stands designed by Foster + Partners, and are the first moving-image artworks to be installed in a cathedral in Britain on a long-term basis.


Bill Viola. Martyrs

“The two themes of Mary and Martyrs symbolise some of the profound mysteries of human existence. One is concerned with birth and the other death; one with comfort and creation, the other with suffering and sacrifice. If I am successful, the final pieces will function both as aesthetic objects of contemporary art and as practical objects of traditional contemplation and devotion.” Bill Viola

 In 2003 London’s National Gallery was the location for Bill Viola’s exhibition, The Passions, a body of work rich in sacred and art historic influences and which directly launched the preliminary discussions of installations for St Paul’s Cathedral.


Bill Viola. The Quintet of the Unseen, 2000 from the Passions. Video installation, colour video rear projection on screen mounted on wall. Projected image size: 140 x 120cm.  Photo: Kira Perov

The artist’s works for sacred spaces include The Messenger, a commission for Durham Cathedral in 1996, Ocean Without a Shore, premiered in the 15th century church of San Gallo at the 2007 Venice Biennale, and the video triptych Study for The Path (2002) donated to one of Milan’s historic churches, Basilica di San Marco, in 2008.

Bill Viola (b. 1951) is internationally recognised as one of the leading artists of our time. An acknowledged pioneer in the medium of video art, he has for 40 years created a wide range of video installations that are displayed in major museums throughout the world. His works focus on universal human experiences – birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness – and have roots in both Eastern and Western art as well as spiritual traditions, including Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian mysticism. Using the inner language of subjective thoughts and collective memories, his videos communicate to a wide audience, allowing viewers to experience the work directly, and in their own personal way.

Kira Perov, executive producer and assistant director of Mary and Martyrs, is Viola’s partner and collaborator. She has worked closely with Viola since 1979 and as Executive Director of Bill Viola Studio she creatively guides and manages the production of his videotapes and installations. She has also documented their working process on location and in the studio. She edits all Bill Viola publications, and curates and organises exhibitions of the work worldwide.

Both installations have been created with the assistance of a significant number of trusts, foundations and individual donors, and are offered to Tate as a gift from the Bill Viola Studio, being placed on long-term loan to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Key supporters for the project include the Art Fund, Sir Evelyn and Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Lord and Lady Foster of Thames Bank, Foster + Partners, The Edwin Fox Foundation, Mr and Mrs John Singer, The Headley Trust, The Jerusalem Trust, Dunard Fund, The John Booth Charitable Foundation, The Ruddock Foundation for the Arts, Simon and Virginia Robertson, The Harrow Development Trust, Jeff and Elizabeth Louis, and Blain|Southern.


About jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space


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