Thinking Aloud: What to do with the East End Panels

Since the reordering process started, we have been confronted with three panels at the East End of Church which was hidden from view in the 1940s. I believe they date back to the 1870s and were most probably put in when the Stained Glass did. They are painted metal: tin or zinc and show a lamb and flag and on the other side a pelican in red on gold and below words of institution from the Eucharist “This is my body…” “This is my blood”. Deeply sacramental. Lovely.

Unfortunately, this technique was flawed because the metal has decayed and the images almost lost. The question therefore is what to do with them. They must have started to decay fairly rapidly as by the 1920’s the words below were covered up with a curtain, but I believe that they are a powerful statement of the sacramental basis of this church and that we have now restored to this place a primacy of the Eucharist and devotion to it which is the heart of our activity.

Options:

a) Restoration of the originals

The metal is so badly eroded that restoration would not really be possible. It’s a lovely work done in a bad way. Restoration to halt the decay would be really specialist and hence really expensive

b) Facsimile

Better, modern techniques on modern materials to bring back the original. There is enough to be seen to work from. Exactly who could be commissioned to do this, I have no idea.

c) New artwork

Replace them with something new. Something exciting. Something innovative. The church is not just about what was but where it is now. A Church should comprise of the past and the modern, and here might be an opportunity. Naturally, the theme would need to be sacramental, maybe a modern take on the symbols of bread and wine, body and blood, mystery and sacredness. Coupled with our new font plans, this promises to take the parish into another new venture: to be a space were modern works of working church furnishings are set in a more traditional space and bring the church forward, and look towards the future. I am really enthused by the thought of a modern designer looking at the possibilities of this space.

The existing panels

So, what do people think? Which is our best option? What would you like to see there?