Public Sculptures by Ben Dearnley seen at St John's Church, Bathwick - Our Lady of Bath, Queen of Peace
Public Sculptures by Ben Dearnley seen at St John's Church, Bathwick - Our Lady of Bath, Queen of Peace
Context & Credits
Item Our Lady of Bath, Queen of Peace
Created by Ben Dearnley
Created & Sold By:
Item Details
The largest single block of stone in Bath is the 7.5 tonnes of Portland stone which was delivered and then carved on site on the banks of the river Avon in the garden of St John The Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in the summer of 2018. The opening ceremony in October saw the completion of the 3 month long project with a beautiful late Autumn day to celebrate the transformation of this garden.

Ben was commissioned to make a contemporary statue of Mary mother of Christ, for St John's which brought together the traditions of the past with the technologies of our present time. By Using Solar power to light the finished work at night, his vision was to use nature to bring light into the darkness and illuminate the statue in the darkest hours and have this aspect be a link to the fact that Mary gave birth to Jesus, the light of the world.

The apostle John writes 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The statue is part of the regeneration of the garden at the back of the church, which proved to be an amazing studio for the duration of Ben's carving giving local residents and visitors to the city the chance to see him working the huge block of stone, day by day. And slowly as the figure of Mother Mary emerged in the stone, he began to find her in his heart. Ben says "I began to see Mother Mary bit by bit, it was as if she were reveling herself to me not only in the stone but in the very core of my being".

The first stages were time to get to 'know' the stone and find the scale of the figure within. She is seven and a half feet tall and as such this statue is one of the largest in this part of the country and is to become part of the many dedications to Mother Mary which will have an even greater importance as we approach 2020 and the Re-dedication of England as Mary's dowry.

The details show her 'welcome' as well as the powerful aspect of Mary having dominion over original sin. The teachings held within this sculpture show reverence to the Mother of God on earth for she is full of compassion and holds her arms wide enough to hold us all, for all time.The radiating facets behind her reference on one side the Seven Sorrows and the other the Seven Joys of Mother Mary. They radiate from the mid point of her womb and it is here we find some of the core teachings of the Church which are accessible to us all if we just open our eyes, minds and hearts.

Whatever faith, beliefs or even non beliefs we may hold, try a visit to this space and see what you feel. I for one can say that a true sense of peace is here, in this tucked away part of one of England's most beautiful cities.

"A special thanks to the Master of stone, Monoleeto Sanger, who has been, and continues to, be a powerful brother in arms against the darkness. His generosity and skills have yet again proved to be invaluable, for without him this sculpture would not be here. Thanks also to all the team at St John's especially Tom for his daily prayers and calm devotion and Canon David for all his wisdom, guidance and hospitality. This really has been the most epic journey for me and one which will continue to feed my creative spirit for all time to come. Thanks be to God, for him alone is all our work done." - Benjamin C Dearnley

Meet the Creator

Ben Dearnley

Ben Dearnley

Wales, United Kingdom

I was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire in 1964 and spent much of my life surrounded by music and monumental art. My late father, Dr Christopher Dearnley, was first, organist at Salisbury cathedral and then of St Paul's Cathedral, London, 1968 1989. From an early age I have been witness to a majesty of music and sculpture of the highest order. This has been a major underlying influence for my work as a sculptor. Together with over twenty-five years working closely with some of the world's top saxophonists as an instrument technician. For as the intuitive expression of jazz leads one on a journey, expressed through the instrument, so too will the action of the direct carving of stone.

I also have a deep love for the Masters of the past, Rodin, Michelangelo and Canova, to name but a few and each of these sculptors has one thing in common - they are all involved with the figure and its expressive nature, truth and beauty.

My work is focused on the figure and the narrative I wish to create fuses the traditional materials of the past with the modern world. The way I approach this is to draw the viewer into a personal dialogue with the sculpture by presenting them with a seductive surface of the fragmented figure. This is where the past is reflected by the choice of material and its particular fragmentation. The position of the sculpture reflects an inner truth, which I am developing within the hidden spaces of the form. The choice to fragment the figure is a conscious one which has a reflective nature for me as I believe we are all fragments of a whole. My latest works are pushing my understanding of material and the ability to reach new forms of expression.

This stage of my work is taking me ever more towards of the classical Greek forms found over 2000 years ago. My study trips to Italy in 2007 have proved invaluable to me and I am indebted to Marco Giannoni and his team, ( Niccola, Fabio, Francesco and of course the amazing Mori ) for their Kindness and patience: Also to Nigel Konstam at the Verrocchio Arts Centre, for his teachings whilst working there in the spring time. ( See the Italian Diaries )

I am now fully engaged in the direct carving of stone, along with the study of marble, looking at ways of exploring a return to the pure forms of the past with a modern contextualization, creating a vibrant expression of truth through beauty.

My Avenue of Champions series, with some of our finest Olympic and Paralympics athletes has been a huge inspiration for me with the strength and determination they show in each of their disciplines having a rub off effect on myself. For when the work of carving by hand gets too much and it all feels like it is going nowhere, I only have to reflect on their incredible achievements to find the next level of personal strength to keep going.

This time in my life celebrates a homecoming for me. For in 1997 I began my studies carving stone with a master of the past, Mr. Les Sandham. This inspirational master showed me the truth of material and gave light to my own practice which began with the first strike of the hammer.

Cicero said, "Each thing contains within itself the germ of its own future".

But it is only when we fully recognize the particular germ which is uniquely our own that we can fully nurture it. I know I am in my place and feel blessed to be able to work as I do and every day I give thanks for it being so. I hope you enjoy looking at some of my sculpture.

I am married to the wonderful artist Lynn Parr and we live and work together on the wild west coast of Wales.

Available for commission/custom work