The ark in the bible was the ship built by Noah to save his family and two of every kind of animal from the great flood.
That’s why Chester Cathedral named its internationally important sculpture exhibition ARK because not only are many of the pieces depictions of animals but the church has traditionally been a place of sanctuary.
ARK, which features 90 works by more than 50 internationally renowned sculptors, is fully open to the public from today (July 7) and runs until October 15, 2017. Entry is free.
Among the globally famous artists is Damien Hirst whose ‘False Idol’ piece, in the form of a calf with golden hooves preserved in formaldehyde, references the bible story from the book of Exodus.
The exhibit, which took three days to install, is on loan from a private collection in Italy.
One of the smallest pieces is Sir Antony Gormley’s ‘Home and Away’ which is a sculpture of a tiny foetus apparently based on Gormley himself as are his 100 cast iron figures entitled Another Place on Crosby Beach.
Other renowned sculptors in the exhibition include Lynn Chadwick, Barbara Hepworth, Sarah Lucas, David Mach, Kenneth Armitage and Peter Randall-Page, among others.
Canon Jane Brooke, Vice Dean of the cathedral and passionate arts lover, extended this invitation to everyone.
She said: “I’d love to invite you to the ARK exhibition, one of the biggest we’ve ever had in North West of England and it involves 90 pieces, some inside the cathedral, some outside the cathedral.
"There’s world class art by Damien Hirst and Antony Gormley and many other famous artists and sculptors. Please do come and see it. It’s called ARK because there are many animals although there are many other abstract pieces as well, some large, some small.
“We’ve also got educational workshops sponsored by Bank of America . We’re delighted with that. Do come and join us, no charge, simply queue up and get the map at the door and come in.”
The event is causing a stir in the arts world as evidenced by the fact BBC arts editor Will Gompertz has recorded a package for the 10 O’clock News.
On Thursday evening the cathedral hosted a private tour for 300 people attended by the Lord Mayor of Chester Razia Daniels , outgoing MBNA chief executive Ian O’Doherty, The Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs and politicians including Eddisbury MP Antoinette Sandbach.
Works of art are set against the magnificent backdrop of the cathedral and grounds with each piece carefully matched to its surroundings. Some of the exhibits are worth millions of pounds. Six are brand new commissions specially created for ARK.
Gallery Pangolin is curating the exhibition which has been almost three years in the making but without any cost to the cathedral thanks generous sponsors.
The main sponsor of the event is Bank of America Merrill Lynch but other Chester and Cheshire firms and individuals to back the exhibition include Grosvenor Estate, Elegant Resorts, Individual Restaurants, Iceland Charitable Foundation and The Holroyd Foundation.
As education partner, Bank of America Merrill Lynch will support the schools and public education programme.
This will consist of master classes to explore traditional and non-traditional art-making processes led by expert tutors; a lecture series featuring leading artists and academics plus workshops aimed at adults and children of all ages.