By Iris Conlay Do we know enough about the churches in our own country? I confess that until 1 saw a brilliant little film called An Artist Looks at Churches. put out (free to clubs and associations and schools) by British Transport Films, I had never heard of that 12th-century gem. St. Mary and St. David at Kilpeck.
John Piper, the painter and
stained glass artist who designed the baptistry window at Coventry, makes a tour in this film, of ten lesser-known churches (each representative of an architectural period) and shows us the wonderful and lonely settings in fields and fens. of so many of our prereformation churches. He focuses the camera, too, on revealing interior details of the carving in these churches on the man caught in the fourteenth century yawning; on the woman eating a banana, on the girl pulling the dog by his tail. as well as the exterior melting (through weathering) faces of Christ, his mother or the saints on which time has bestowed an extra beauty.
Rewarding Post-reformation churches, austere in architectural form but lavish in gilded and worldly monuments, give place to the functional modern, represented by the open belfry at St. Bernadette's at Lancaster and by that violent and moving crucifixion by Graham Sutherland (prefiguring Coventry's calm and remote Christ in Majesty) and by now the classical majesty of Henry Moore's Madonna and Child, both in St. Matthew's, Northampton.
Visually, as well as educationally, this film is most rewarding. A pity, though that the 15 minutes could not have been extended by three more to include the cathedral by Sir Basil Spence at Coventry, so representative of our transitional age.