Thursday, 19 June 2014

Arthur Dooley Centurion-Piece of the Week.

Arthur Dooley was commissioned  to do the sculptures in the Church of St Marys RC, in the town of Leyland.
Which at the time was famous for making buses.
 This small town was brave enough to look at taking the piety of the cruxifiction and making a contemporary statement by adopting a controversial untrained artist.

Dooley was the man of the time, he was on This Is Your Life.
This was where he came up with the idea for the faceless Centurion.
Henry Moore was originally asked, but was too busy and it was said that he recommended that Dooley was given the job.
Dooley was in fact commissioned to sculpt the Stations of the cross in bronze.

In 1965 a BBC programme directed by Eric Davidson titled A Modern Passion was made.
They filmed Dooley talking about his work.
He describes how he came up with the concept for the faceless Centurion One of the most remarkable works of contemporary religious work in Britain.
 Davidson says. " Fourteen scenes of the journey. From the judgement seat of Pontius Pilot to the entombment at Mount Golgotha" he continues  “Here are no dull scenes" the narrator states "placed in the openings of V shaped pillars are cast and welded figures, here there are no dull personages, here the holy has invaded the secular, become one with it and it hits us in the pit of the stomach, here is a modern Everyman”

Dooley says, talking about his idea of the faceless Centurion in his own Liverpudlian directness.

“This goes on right through history, they lose their faces, on Panzer tanks, or the Roman soldiers were in armour.
This loss of the personality man becomes a unit, with a sort of a dictator, and an authority, and this obedience to authority, he is the be all and end all, and there doesn't seem any real personal thing about it. Its from the old fascist concept, this soldier business. Its completely unnatural to us and I think eventually soldiers will be done away with well we hope so”.  

Watch the YouTube video above for his full explanation about his concept. 
I particulary love the way he used his own experiences, what he saw on the streets.
 The two women on the street watching a demo and the Echo lad with a placard selling the paper proclaiming the news "Christ Dies John Pleads Peace". This is so touching and so, makes us able to relate to it with our own eyes as if it happened here, before us.

My Centurion (pictured above) is 76cm high and made of bronze with some additions and signed AD 74.

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