Twice on visits to London, we’ve attended the free afternoon concerts at St. Martin in the Fields. The church itself is majestic, situated on Trafalgar Square, near the National Gallery. And to sit in it, listening to a recital of Benjamin Britten’s settings of seven sonnets by Michelangelo, is a sublime experience. Look up, look up, and there’s the east window, created by Shirazeh Houshiary, an Iranian-born artist living in England.
A window by a woman born in Iran, in an Anglican church designed by Roman Catholic James Gibbs, serving English and Chinese speaking congregations as well as homeless people in London, with an interesting charter, point ten being, “We are committed to identifying and affirming what is good and identifying and opposing what is evil, and living as best we can in the mess in the middle.”
I’ve spent some time looking at Shirazeh Houshiary’s work online — her sculpture “String Quintet”, which is magic to me right now as I work on some notes for this summer’s Pender Harbour Chamber Music Festival, a visual expression of the lyrical conversations at the heart of string music; a painting, “Between”, which speaks of calm and is reminiscent of star maps, of deep space photography. (Those Islamic astronomers!). The more I look, the more I want to see them in galleries, or open air, or filtering light into an centuries-old church in the heart of London.
From an interview: “Typically my works are multi layered relating to human perception and all its processes. As a result my interest can encompass all human knowledge and feelings.”