Kanzleraltar (the term comes from the German word for a combined pulpit-altar) pays homage to the mundane, unnoticed yet colourful trivia found during a two-week residency at Left Bank Leeds, an artspace in a deconsecrated early 20th century church. The church was designed by Temple Moore (1856–1920), one of Victorian England's greatest church architects. The churches he built are now considered to be masterpieces of the late Gothic Revival architectural style.

 

The first time I encountered the Left Bank space, I was overwhelmed by the interior. Not just because it is a fascinating mix of solidity and airy insubstantiality, but also because of the startling contrast with the exterior: unprepossessing red brick (albeit with interesting detail on the southern facade), stolid, and oddly invisible from the road. Left Bank is a place of contradiction and paradox, overlooked and overwhelming. This was the starting point for my work during the residency. 

 

I became fascinated by the manner in which every "view" was "framed" by the gothic  arches. The interior is austere, with the only formal colour provided by a single stained glass window and a beautiful arts and crafts style memorial. Temple Moore apparently eschewed the use of too much decorative colour, but the purist objectives of the architect can't control the intervention of the inhabitant, visitor, or worker. When I started exploring, I found colour everywhere. The single stained glass window was a starting point, but I was more intrigued by the visible invisible: dead butterflies, safety gloves, gas cylinders. 

 

Ultimately, the drawings and reflections of these unassuming objects became the focus of a secular four-panel “altarpiece”, counterpoint colour to the vast stone space, and itself creating a further “space” within. Approached by the pulpit steps, this hidden interior revealed another world of translucent yet paradoxically opaque imagery, echoing my first response to Left Bank.

© 2017 Gillian Holding