12 saints statues re-instated at Gorton Monastery
PUBLISHED: 20:17 02 August 2012 | UPDATED: 21:42 20 February 2013
After more than 16 years in storage and eight months being restored, 12 saints statues have been hoisted 40 ft up back onto their plinths in the Great Nave at Gorton Monastery. PHOTOGRARAPHY BY VIKAS SHAH
After more than 16 years in storage and eight months being restored, 12 saints statues have been hoisted 40 ft up back onto their plinths in the Great Nave at Gorton Monastery.
Local artists Shawn Williamson and Andrew Scantlebury, both specialising in sculpture and stone masonry, and a group of volunteers, painstakingly restored the stone statues on-site in two container workshops at the Franciscan Monastery in east Manchester. Made of French limestone, each statue is eight foot in height and weighs half a ton.
Sculptor Shawn explained:We had to work in the style of the original sculptors from 150 years ago. One of my favourite parts of the job was replacing St. Clares missing nose. The statues were designed to be viewed from the ground, not from in front. The lips protrude a lot, but thats just part of the exaggeration of the features so that they can be seen clearly from the ground.
Andrew Scantlebury added: It has been a challenging project, but its been great. Im immensely happy and proud to see the Saints back where they belong.
Specialist gilder, Terry Colley, from Romiley, completed the work. Terry said: It was important not to gild parts of the statues too much to respect the Franciscan vow of poverty. I feel a good balance between the aesthetic and religious influences was reached.
Elaine Griffiths, chief executive of The Monastery said:The statues have always been regarded as an integral part of the buildings architecture and have been noticeably missing from their plinths. We are tremendously grateful to everyone who has played a part in this long but ultimately rewarding journey to bring them back home. This concludes another successful chapter in the restoration and reinvention of The Monastery, Manchesters most unique historical and architectural asset.
The statues had been removed in the early 1990s by a developer who intended to convert the building into flats. When the scheme failed The Monastery quickly fell into disrepair, at the mercy of vandals, thieves and inclement weather.
Alocal historian, Janet Wallwork, saw the statues in a catalogue for an auction at Sothebys in 1994, sparking an investigation into their ownership and how they came to be for sale at all. Manchester City Council stepped in to buy the statues, saving and protecting an important part of the citys architectural heritage, at a cost of 25,000.