ARTWORK Featuring Dozens Of Crosses Completed At Glasgow Church

11 October, 2021 | Public Art, Churches

A STRIKING new piece of public artwork has been installed at a Glasgow church.

One of the walls at St Rollox Church in Sighthill has been adorned with 77 crosses fashioned out of concrete.

Entitled Assembly, the piece is made up of 33 different styles of Christian cross -– one representing each year of Jesus’s life before he was crucified.

It was created by prizewinning sculptor Michael Visocchi, who won the £45,000 commission after being selected by a jury chaired by the Rev Jane Howitt, the Church of Scotland congregation’s minister.

It took the 44-year-old visual artist two years to make the crosses which belong to a variety of traditions including Coptic, Byzantium, Catholicism and Presbyterianism.

The piece includes the St Andrew’s Cross, the Iona Cross, the Manx cross from the Isle of Man and the Hasta Cross, which is two-and-a-half metres long.

Mr Visocchi said: “The idea is that each cross represents the diversity of people who attend St Rollox Church.

“It’s a metaphor for what goes on behind the walls and the work’s title references the General Assembly of ministers and elders of the Church of Scotland.”

St Rollox Church is one of the Kirk’s most diverse congregations and its outreach project has supported asylum seekers and refugees from war-torn countries like Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq for the last 20 years.

Many people who sought sanctuary, including those born in African nations like Nigeria and the Ivory Coast, have become members of the congregation.

Mr Visocchi, a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, said: “I always hope that an artwork like this means something to the people and community who commissioned it and perhaps it will inspire teaching and sermons over the years.

“The piece also resembles a flock of migrating birds in a way, which refers to the distance that people within the congregation have come to settle in Glasgow.

“So, there is a poetic element to it, as St Rollox Church does important community outreach work and I hope the piece reflects that.”

St Rollox Church’s £2.5million building, which is at the heart of the biggest regeneration project in Scotland, opened in October 2019. It is a flexible and versatile, multi-purpose space that symbolises the rebirth of the Sighthill area.

Ms Howitt said: “The work is very cleverly designed and draws you in when you start to look at it and it makes you think and question what the cross is.

“It is a thing of beauty because the cross reminds us of Jesus and the heart of the Christian faith which is him giving up his life for us.

“It is a piece that brings the church outside into the community and by using various cruciform designs strongly identifies the building as a church.

“It is visible from the nearby park and I think in time it will become a place of stillness where people can come and sit, be quiet and pray.

“For us as a church, I imagine we will hold Easter events outside, weather permitting, with the crosses in the background.”

Ms Howitt said: “Michael is becoming an increasingly well-known sculptor and I imagine that anyone who has an interest in modern sculpture will find their way to St Rollox to admire his work.

“I reckon it will become a significant piece of work within the art world in time.”

The opening of the church building nearly two years ago ended a tumultuous period for the congregation who were told in 2014 that they had to leave their old church building on Fountainwell Road half a mile away.

It was subject to a compulsory purchase order by Glasgow City Council which needed the land to build a new access road to Sighthill, where hundreds of new homes, a new school and shops were built.

Described as a “real asset” to the community, the building construction was funded by the local authority and furnished inside using money from a variety of sources.

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