In the glowing yellows and reds of John Piper’s Coventry Cathedral paintings, you can almost feel the lick of the flames, smell the acrid smoke, as the building burnt to the ground.
Born in 1903, Piper was one of the most important British artists of the 20th century. With a life that spanned the last 100 years, he witnessed many of the major stylistic and thematic developments that rocked the art world throughout the pre- and post-war period.
During the Second World War, the city of Coventry was subjected to heavy air bombardment. On 14th November 1940 one particularly devastating air raid hit the cathedral, reducing the church to mounds of burning rubble. An Official War Artist, Piper drove to the site of the ruins the very next morning to find the fires still raging some 12 hours after the air raid had ended.
detail from Coventry Cathedral interior screen print
Determined to record the damage done, Piper painted two oils – an interior and exterior perspective – in his typically bold and emphatic style. The unforgettable images he produced committed to memory the extraordinary impact the Blitz had upon the British urban landscape, immortalizing a profound and poignant moment.
75 years after that fateful bombing run, the Goldmark Gallery have produced limited edition screen prints after these two paintings to raise funds for the resurrected cathedral. Handmade by master printmakers in our atelier, each of the 20 colours in these prints must be applied separately and painstakingly through individual screens, making for a complex process that would make the print innovator Piper proud.
detail from Coventry Cathedral exterior screen print
£200 from the sale of each print is being donated to the Cathedral, a cause Piper, who later designed the building’s staggering stained glass Baptistry Windows, would no doubt have championed. Already over £30,000 has been raised in support of the magnificent building.
Steeped in historical context and a reminder of Piper’s supreme ability as an architectural artist, these prints would make for a worthy addition to any collection.