UK’s Da Vinci

The Edinburgh Book Festival is getting underway up here  and I am rubbing my hands with anticipation!  Of the many authors who will be discussing (and promoting) their books one that caught my eye is Thomas Heatherwick. He is an inspirational designer who has been called a modern day Leonardo da Vinci, an incredible platitude from no other than Sir Terence Conrad, one of the UK’s leading designers.  Heatherwick’s book ‘Making’ reveals the incredible span of his work, from a new shape for double decker buses to  his amazing dandelion Cathedral ‘ UK pavilion at Shanghai Expo.   Heatherwick was also commissioned by Fr Christopher Jamison, the then abbot of Worth Abbey,  to help ‘refurbish’ their abbey Church (right).  According to Heatherwick, ‘the original auditorium space of the Abbey has a tangible spiritual feel to it; a difficult thing to achieve with modern materials without the obvious historical and religious architectural references. Natural stone and neutral colouring make the space light and airy.’  The new furniture he designed  includes pews for 700, choir stalls, monastery seats, desks and confession rooms, all of which were fabricated from the solid hardwood. Heatherwick, who is internationally acclaimed in the field of design, has now emerged into wider British consciousness through his work on the amazing Olympic Cauldron, unveiled to universal admiration at the Opening Ceremony.

Olympic Pentecost?

The idea of the Cauldron was that each country brought in a copper kettle as they paraded in – those individual flames rose together to produce the big Olympic flame. At the end of the games each country will take back their cauldrons with them. It is a beautiful symbol of unity and hope.  Considering the countries take part include including Syria, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Nigeria etc this is a powerful symbol.   The writer behind the Olympic Ceremony, Frank Cottrell Boyce, has written a beautiful reflection on seeing the Cauldron lit for the first time on the Thinking Faith website. Boyce, a Catholic, describes seeing the cauldron lit for the first time in a rehearsal.  The ceremony’s main designer, leaned over to him and whispered, ‘There you go, Frankie, Pentecost!’.  When creative geniuses like Heatherwick and Boyce come together they can produce something transcendental and truly inspiring.  Lets pray that the universal hope of Pentecost may return in all the athletes hearts to their own countries.

Frank Cotteral Boyce’s article on the opening ceremony is here – Thinking Faith 

Thomas Heatherwicks description of the new Benedictine Church at Worth is here –