Monday, January 25, 2016

Christ Stopped at Burgess Park: Arild Rosenkrantz's war memorial

By Burgess Park in Wells Way SE5, in front of St George's Church (now flats), there stands a war memorial 'to the memory of those who served 1914-1918'. It features a bronze figure of Christ holding a crown of thorns. The statue, formally unveiled in 1920, was made by the Danish artist Arild Rosenkrantz (1870-1964), an interesting character who subscribed to a mystical strand of Christianity strongly influenced by Rudolf Steiner, who he first met in 1912 and worked with closely until Steiner's death in 1925. Not sure if there's any particular esoteric symbolism in the statue, but of course the crown of thorns is traditionally seen as being placed on Christ's head in the lead up to the crucifixion. Here Christ appears to be either contemplating the crown or offering it - to suffering humanity?

Much of the artist's work dealt with religious/spiritual themes, with his paintings also infused by Steiner's theories of the importance of colour (Steiner once said: 'Colours are the soul of nature and the entire cosmos – and we become part of that soul when we live with the colours').

Tempting to wonder if his c.1930 work, Temple of Peace, referenced St George's Church in Camberwell.

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