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Steven Follen
Processional Cross


St Botolph's Church
Aldgate, London

July 2007

Commission to design and make a processional cross to commemorate the lives of the seven people who died near Aldgate Tube station in the bombings which took place across London on the 7th July 2005.

The cross provides a symbol and focus for relatives of the victims and is a visual response to the history and the location. The design tries to capture the confusion, destruction and the shattering of lives caused by the events of July 2005 but also the static, the silence, the still of the aftermath.

As well as an awareness of its historical precedents, producing the cross also necessitated looking forward and considering what it might communicate in 500 years time. An artefact / an object imbued with meaning.

This commission rethinks the content and design of a processional cross, both in its form and the imagery used. It references the historic precedents of ecclesiastical silver and re-interprets those objects to produce a contemporary artefact with historical references both in method of construction and content. Observations were made of processional crosses in national collections recording the shapes, forms and proportions and also how the pieces were constructed - many being wooden structures clad with embossed or engraved metal.

The final design brings together the digital images of the contemporary with the historical references to the earlier engraving and metal cladding of processional crosses. The object continues my interest in "drawing with metal", combining the drawn or photographed image with the making process and the use of digital and manufacturing techniques in the production of "crafted" objects.

Blurred images of commuters reminiscent of the mobile phone shots that recorded the aftermath are photographically etched into a stainless steel cross on a blackened oak shaft. The reverse of the cross is a mass of words with small sections highlighted in gold, offering a written picture of why the cross was made. The form of the shaft and the weight and balance of the cross were important considerations in the design.

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London Metropolitan University