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Thought I’d go shopping for ideas for ChARTism on the Hill drawings. Round town and up the hill to Newport St Woolos Cathedral ,where I stumbled on a meeting of the Church Commissioners and the current Dean of Monmouth, discussing how to restore the integrity of an ancient building.

NPT26

Stripped back to a bare Norman interior is one vision for St Woolos; the Normans certainly had a clear design aesthetic but did it have integrity? Did they? Do uneven restorations deserve preservation too, or is further uneven intervention more authentic to our time? Iconclasts don’t have these problems of course – fewer committees.

The cathedral features two fine columns, some say from Roman Caerleon but 12th Century Normandy seems more likely to me.  Experts are undecided.

Various groups lobby for preservation of artefacts of certain periods and ideologies – the 20th Century Society for example (is there one for every century?) so it seems quite a challenge, once a building becomes a deep-crust palimpsest to do anything more than rearrange the furniture, keep the rain out – and people in, in the case of the church. Late 70s ice rink vs. Roman amphitheatre? Stone vs formica? No contest. Ancient vs Postmodern is tricky.  Early 21st century mainstream retail vs 1970’s murals – often roughly handled;  Iron Age vs New Age; 1980s vs 1880s…

Anyway, to Newport. Leaving the church, heading down to the shopping streets and city art gallery.

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Slideshow includes details from work at Newport Museum and Art Gallery by Stanley Lewis The Home Front (Lewis went off to fight, leaving the work unfinished); a Jack Crabtree miner In the Shower, Anthony Steele-Morgan Newport 1977-78; rococo monkey ceramics from the Iris Fox Collection. Shopping street window display image by Gerard Whyman.