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Archbishop Justin Welby “scanned” with 100 parishioners for seaside town 3D artwork

Posted on: June 19, 2019 3:39 PM
Some of the 3D-printed characters depicting the congregation and parishioners of St Peter's Church, Folkestone, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
Photo Credit: All photos: Strange Cargo

[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] More than 100 members of an English seaside Anglican church have been captured by 3D scanning technology, alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, to create a sculptural artwork in celebration of the town’s fishing heritage. Members of St Peter’s Church, Folkestone, and representatives from the local community who took part in The Blessing of the Fisheries procession last year, joined in a one-off art creation which involved each of them being scanned and printed as part of the church’s 150th anniversary celebration. The miniature procession installed in St Peter’s foyer will be unveiled tomorrow (Thursday). 

Church warden, Dr David Wilson said: “I think this is the first time ever that people from across an entire parish have been scanned, printed and installed in their place of worship. The figures are so lifelike and there are all kinds of people represented from the youngest child to the Archbishop of Canterbury.” 

The frieze, installed in alcoves along the church’s entrance corridor, came about through a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to restore the roof and building. Dr Wilson said the church decided to create some artworks to connect them to the community and the vibrant artistic area nearby. 

“It’s an exciting idea and as far as I know it’s the first time 3D printing has been used in this way in a church. I suppose it’s a bit like a very different kind of group photograph,” Dr Wilson said. “St Peter’s was built to serve the fishing community 150 years ago, this project has been a wonderful way to re-establish links with our community and to enhance the church.” 

Community-based arts charity, Strange Cargo, set up a 3D printing tent in the church to capture all their subjects. The Artistic Director, Brigitte Orasinski, said: “The frieze is designed to forge a renewed connection between the diminished fishing community and the church. We were delighted that people from all walks of life are part of the new work. Everyone involved has a connection to the parish and this reinforces the importance of St. Peter’s and The Blessing of the Fisheries as part of Folkestone’s DNA.” 

Two local parishioners feature more prominently in the frieze, both descendants of generations of Folkestone fishing families they depict, in The Fisher of Men and The Star of the Sea. Harry Mardle, a local fisherman wearing the archetypal yellow oilskins, and Kayleigh Collins, draped in a blue shawl and clasping a starfish over an everyday white top and trousers can be seen in the piece. 

Overlooking Folkestone harbour, St Peter’s is known locally as the fishermen’s church and every June since the 1890s The Blessing of the Fisheries procession of fishermen and women, together with choirs, clergy, and civic dignitaries has taken place in the parish. 

A second artwork has also been installed in St Peter’s Mariners’ Chapel, dedicated to those that work at sea especially out of the port of Folkestone, and comprises of 20 stories depicted on porcelain tiles. Inspired by Mexican votive paintings, the tiles celebrate the men, families and 200 registered vessels that feature in Folkestone’s long maritime history. 

Dr Wilson said the artworks were already drawing in more visitors to the church and their hope is that it will deepen the connection between the church and the local community.

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