Page 2, 7th August 1953

7th August 1953
Page 2
Page 2, 7th August 1953 — 'FRILLS' AND THE ENGLISH TRADITION

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Organisations: Mother Church
Locations: Durham


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SIR,-How right that the expression "frills" used by Mr. J. D. Robinson should have been challenged with such swiftness. More is the pity the challenge was spoilt by confusion.

Two points need immediate clarification: Firstly, what constitutes a frill? A frill is something of an enrichment, an amusing or fanciful snag without function or purpose other than being an end in itself. No accidental of the Faith can be so classified, and before accepting the grace of conversion your correspondent must have been well aware of this precious truth. His objection therefore, cannot lie amongst principles, but more specifically in the way these principles are presented. Again, the domesticities of Mother Church, that is the artistic, outward expression of dogma, tradition and incident, cannot be considered to exist without good purpose. From deduction, therefore, the objection must be, it can only be. towards the general level of Church art in England.

Secondly, the reference to the "spartan English conception of religion": this spartanic (if you like, puritanic) attitude is in no way deeprooted; although. often quoted as being natural to the religion of these islands. This cult has never infected the Church, for it was founded in heresy and even then only touched an over-zealous minority. Traditionally. England has always loved its statues and murals, its high colour and flood of artistic expression. Proof of this can be seen in the west front of Wells. the carving at Durham and the now vacant niches in every preReformation church in the country. Are these great works a stumblingblock to a likely convert?

Pray that Mr. Robinson's headache is caused only by the surfeit of poor art form now flooding our church repositories. If this is the only complaint, here is the cure. Do some quick surgery, work on the publishers and other agents who will persist in selling such rubbish. The everdescending spiral of poor religious art will then be checked and things will begin to ascend slowly but surely.

Eric Gill gave us the lead. His was the rebirth of the traditional spirit as opposed to the self-conscious, art Gothique of Emancipation slays. His was the real expression of the Faith. Now others follow, and show us the secrets of Gill; simplicity and truth, sincerity and a holy poverty combined with an excitement and joy dead since the Dissolution. Here again is our real, English church culture and, thank God, it is not spartan !

Martin Fisher,

Court House, Frame, Somerset.

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