One of Edmund de Waal’s most celebrated works, sukkah, which he originally created for the Canton Scuola synagogue in the Jewish Ghetto in Venice as part of psalm, will be installed in Canterbury Cathedral for Passover and Holy Week. The work will be located in St Gabriel’s Chapel, in the Crypt of the Cathedral, a chapel famed for its striking early 12th century frescoes and Romanesque carvings of animals playing musical instruments.
Edmund de Waal said: “It is a great privilege to bring this work to a place that I have known and loved since childhood. Sukkah will have moved from the highest space of the Venetian Jewish Ghetto to deep within the oldest parts of Canterbury Cathedral. Both these spaces contain imagery of celebration and it feels appropriate to be announcing this on the eve of the two great festivals of Passover and Easter. I hope its resonance of vulnerability and protection, contemplation and prayer will be manifest here.”
The work, sukkah, was originally conceived for the Sukkah in the Canton Scuola synagogue in the Jewish Ghetto in Venice for the 2019 Venice Biennale. Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles, is the festival that commemorates the forty years of wandering in the desert. The work is comprised of nine towers that appear to float above the table, each containing tall white porcelain vessels and leaning pieces of gilded steel that catch the light from the medieval stained-glass windows.
The Very Revd Dr Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury, said: “We feel privileged and deeply moved to have Edmund’s work sukkah standing in St Gabriel’s Chapel in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral at this significant time of year for both Jewish and Christian communities. It is a work which reminds us of the fragility not only of human life, but also of the shelters we construct during our human journeys. The light which shines through the ancient stained glass changes hour by hour and day by day, and the sense of ‘reflection’ becomes not only real as one observes its effect on the installation, but also an aspect of our mental and spiritual ability to reflect on our human condition and its capacity to journey beyond the seeming limitations we experience. It also becomes an invitation to journey on together in faith and hope for the future. Sukkah will enrich the Cathedral’s life in Holy Week and Easter by its presence among us.”