“The Apostles Speaking in Tongues” Series
Tate Britain | 1996
Trinity Chapel at Salisbury Cathedral | 2014
In this FSA Inspiration, we feature the British sculptor Nicholas Pope (b. 1949), particularly for his The Apostles Speaking in Tongues series (1996) first shown at the Tate Britain and later at Trinity Chapel, Salisbury Cathedral (2014). The artist made this work after recovering from a serious illness, during which he took time away from the art world, pausing his studio activity until the early 1990s. After this hiatus, Pope returned to his studio practice wherein Christianity became a strong theme within his work.
The installation, made up of 33 terracotta figures, recreated events narrated in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.
The installation, made up of 33 terracotta figures, recreated events narrated in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. According to Director of Tate Modern, Frances Morris “[During] the Jewish feast of the Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was said to have come upon the Apostles in Jerusalem enabling them to speak in tongues to those present. The language of this text in the Authorized Version is richly atmospheric. The Holy Spirit descends amidst a ‘rushing mighty wind’ and appears in the form of ‘cloven tongues of fire.’ Nicholas Pope’s Apostles are likewise the bearers of fire. Made in brick clay of variegated earth-colors, each figure supports a primitive oil-lamp backed by a halo in beaten metal. The lamps provide a pulsating glow which is reflected from the polished metal and is also thrown, like stigmata, through the haloes’ circular apertures. In the flickering half-light the Apostles cast their aura upon a host of ceramic figures.”
– From Tate Britain’s “Art Now”