Rafael Klein – Family Tree
Rochester Cathedral 1 – 25 August 2017
related sculpture and graphic work at Francis Iles Gallery until 29 September 2017
Sculpture feels right in the grand open spaces of a cathedral. This sacred refuge can remove us from practical cares and invite a consideration of matters spiritual, whatever our religious beliefs might be.The marriage between the architecture of sacred buildings and the sculpture within them has a long history.
Family Tree is a series of sculptures and graphic works which has occupied me for several years. It began as a reaction to a time when divisions between people seem to be relentlessly emphasised. But even trees are social creatures. They release communicating scent, warning each other about pests, and even join their roots below the forest floor. If trees are social, how much more so are we human animals. The idea of the family reminds us that, as a brave politician said, for all that separates us, far more unites us. In a real sense we all come from the same cosmic dust and the rest is bunk. And the tree can remind us that we are no less a part of nature. Leonardo da Vinci, in the 1490s wrote poetically of the circulatory system as “a tree of veins.” It’s branches feel like our arteries.
Family Tree is inspired by the thought that we are all connected.
Drawing is the beginning of everything. It all starts with a line floating on a thin sheet of paper. Hold it up and light filters through it. It’s lightness and transparency is an inspiration.
So if a sculpture grows from this, maybe it can retain that openness. If a child draws a tree, it is made up of simple lines. If these lines are cut in a thick piece of metal, it becomes solid and at the same time transparent.
And so, a sculpture can be both heavy and still let the sky through.
The Family Tree sculptures are open, transparent. Despite their great size, they remain light. They have kept the delicacy of the drawings and prints where they began.
Mystical properties of Sculpture
Sculpture is usually made up of physical objects. Whether stone, steel or bronze there is a 3 dimensional substance. The challenge is to bring something more to this physical form. Whether with emotions, thought or spirit, art must open out and fill our hearts. With a drawing this might seem easier. The fragile line, the gentle glow of a watercolour, there is already delicacy saying ‘I am an object in the real world, but I am also pure thought’. With heavy solidity, sculpture has a particularly tough job saying ‘I am mere thought’.
Why the tree?
Well, it is in our similarity to trees that we can recognise that we are simply organic beings. We are joined like leaves on branches, with our roots unified in the our mother, the earth.
We recognise our veins of oxygen filled blood in the meandering of branches. Our children like so many leaves. The branches remind us of arms reaching for the sky.
And why cathedrals?
Where better to place art which insists that we are all one, than a house of worship. Simplicity of a large open space, room to stop and open ones heart to a spiritual thought.
We are all connected. We come from a heaven which is filled with stars, whether we find a God there or not.
Family Tree was at Portsmouth Cathedral and simultaneously at Jack House Gallery during Easter, 2017.