ALLEGORY OF FAITH
Angel Row Gallery,
Allegory of Faith is the title of the exhibition 'Sh’khinah' the main piece in the work, Sh'kinah is a Hebrew word to denote the dwelling or settling of the divine presence of God, both in people and in the temple in Jerusalem. To help explore the meanings I took Ezekial's text to respected architect David Franklin of Franklin Ellis Architects, Nottingham to try and visualize the temple as it will appear. Galila Yarvin, a young Jewish female architect was on placement with the firm and willingly collaborated on my research. This was the beginning of an epic journey that has so far extended from the UK to New York and to Jerusalem. The installation is accompanied by a set of architectural prints, images of a temple. This work originated from a series of questions that were prompted after finding a text in the Bible Ezekiel 47 focused which describes in detail a Future Temple to be built in the Third Millennium, therefore in our future. The questions I had at the time were:
Why is it that in England, with a foundational commitment to Christianity, is there so little reference to the faith's origins in Jewish history?
What meaning does the Hebrew Testament, the biblical 'Old Testament' have in relation to the present?
Why, in the present day is there so little connection between Christians and Messianic Jews although there is a shared belief in the New Testament?
Why do we need churches if we have a personal relationship with God?
Why is a Christian society, dissociated from the Jewish heritage in which it may be possible to find a greater understanding or insight into the words of Jesus?
Is not 'finding' God undertaken through Jesus rather than through Christianity or - isms?
Franklin Ellis Architects,
It was with a great sense of excitement that we started to feed the Old Testament text into the computer and generate images of the Millennial Temple that Ezekiel prophesied after having seen a vision over 2600 years ago.
This vision is limited in its detailed description both in the physical appearance of the temple and in its use. The plan shape and layout are well defined but for the three dimensional side we have had to rely on research and models created in the USA. It is still exciting, despite the need for interpretation, to consider that the three dimensional images, as they appear on the screen may be close to those willed by God.
There seems to be a considerable weight of scholarly opinion suggesting that reinterpretation of the Temple in human or theological terms is imperative. In this instance, in our collaboration with Irene, we have looked at the Temple in a more abstract way, focussing on the Temple more as a piece of sculpture, and looking at our human response to it.
The first thing of interest in the plan is the square footprint. A square is one of the most neutral shapes for a plan, whilst not as perfect as a circle it is more approachable and has a certain beauty in its symmetry. The perimeter of the Temple would convey calm assurance, exaggerated by the proportion of height to length of the wall. It is 3m high by 266m long (a proportion of almost 1/90). The height of 3m is not overbearing but whilst it is clearly there to define a place it is also to control entry. The control of entry to the temple is also interesting. There are three gates which are relatively narrow and distinctly unimposing from the outside (one of these is to remain closed until God has entered through it).
The other two face directly north and south, it is understood that people will enter by one gateway and leave by the one directly opposite. Once through the gate you enter an outer courtyard which is a large U shaped space dominated by the towers of the entrance gates. These ‘gates’ have a definite front and rear elevation with impressive towers facing on to the outer courtyard. They are reminiscent of lions facing inwards.
The outer wall is low and therefore the sense of enclosure would be quite limited. Indeed, If the Temple was in an urban setting then even a small two storey house would have a view to the outer courtyard.Entrance to the inner courtyard is limited again to three gateways which are located directly on axis with the first three. The gates are fairly long with light controlled by slit windows in the sides.
A view of the sacrificial altar is always available directly through the axis of the gates, perhaps as a constant reminder of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The altar construction is of considerable size and would block the view of the exit forcing the visitor to walk round.
The inner courtyard is a more intimate space although again the perimeter wall is not overbearing. The space is dominated by the sanctuary building which overlooks the courtyard from a raised podium. The Temple does not have a western gate, instead, a series of large buildings to house priests and other functionaries. The Temple buildings resist the temptation to express man’s creativity and are deliberately simple, even minimal. The scale also does not appear to create a heirarchy of space, nor does it seek to impose or impress but seeks to express a purpose in the most basic and straightforward manner.