I’m part way through a commission to photograph the cathedral at Ripon. Last week I was tasked with photographing the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. It has a screen that’s invigorating, designed by Leslie Durbin in 1970. It owns the space and oscillates every time I pass it. It’s a destination in itself.
A few weeks before that, I photographed the Anglo Saxon crypt just a few metres away from the Chapel of The Holy Spirit. I lit it with candles (just as it would have been when it was first built) and tried to capture the sanctity of the space.
For me, the sanctity came a few minutes after completion. Finding myself on my own, (it was closed to the public at the time) I blew out the candles and sat within the darkness cast by walls that St. Wilfrid had seen. Through the stillness and the silence in the crypt, I felt its holiness.
Nourished and feeling rooted, I walked up and out into the Quire, then over to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. From the stillness of the ancient crypt to the vascular, beating spirit of the Durbin screen. It was an experience akin to jumping from warm waters into an ice-cold plunge pool.
I never take for granted how our places have the potential to inspire and invigorate – how they can initiate a thought, a journey, a pilgrimage from narratives set within their walls.
Ripon Cathedral is one such place.