'Library' by Sarah Christie

Reflections on Library at Southwark Cathedral by artist Sarah Christie

Library (2016-2019, glazed ceramic) has been a long project, and is the work of many hands and minds. I began it in the week of the EU referendum in June 2016, inviting the public to offer their words to break the social and physical boundaries that seemed to be reappearing and being reinforced by a divisive politics. A fair number seek to ostracise some of the architects of that politics. Many more, though, offer reflections, perspective, and a broader and more universal view on life, love, and what needs to be done in a time of uncertainty and trepidation.

Now in March 2019, as exit from the EU approaches like the dead end of a pot-holed road, the entire work of 2000 public contributions of words and drawings is on show in Southwark Cathedral, and it's very exciting to be able to show the complete work in a place that welcomes all. This ancient and beautiful space invites reflection, stillness, and might perhaps help to encourage a longer view, a slower appraisal of where we are, resisting the impulse towards instant reaction. 

'Ostracon' simply means potsherds. The ancient Greeks used them for voting: 'ostracising' unpopular figures from Athens. Many ancient cultures used them to convey messages or instructions, similar to letters, or text messages, and their longevity teaches us histories of those who came before. I made the the ostracon by hand, casting around 200 bowls, breaking them into sherds before firing them, and then glazing each one to render everyone's words permanent, but Library is very much a collective work and it is the contributions of the public - diverse in subject matter, languages, perspectives - that make the work live.

Images copyright Steve Mepsted 

(c) Steve Mepsted