Friday, June 18, 2010
When I arrived in Auckland on Wednesday, my first stop was the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral. It seemed like a restful place to start my Auckland travel guide research and, always a sucker for stained glass and church architecture, I didn't need my arm twisted. The sun was up in Parnell and as I walked into the cathedral my mouth fell open. The sun was casting a million rainbow reflections through the nave - shimmering, glimmering 'despatches' from the magnificent stained glass windows. I did of course photograph the windows but they deserve a separate post, all on their own. Besides, I was equally bewitched by the rows of chairs and the beautiful colour casts that were dancing across them creating the most marvellous shadows. So that's where I've started.
The cathedral has a fascinating history too. Initially designed by architect, Charles Towle and started 1959-72, it was later modified when the money ran out and the original tower and nave were not built. Then, between 1990-1996, work on the new nave, designed by Richard H Toy, Professor of Architecture at Auckland University, was undertaken - complete with incredible stained glass windows by New Zealand contemporary artists - Robert Ellis down one side and Shane Cotton down the other. In addition to that, the lovely old, wooden Gothic church, St Mary's (1880-1888), located across the road, was shifted to nestle in against the rear of the cathedral. That alone, was a mammoth undertaking, beautifully documented in photographs in the church's entrance.
I spent over an hour at the cathedral - photographing the windows, the chairs, the general architecture and chatting with a lovely old lady of 84, who was the church's volunteer guide for the day. She told me she had been coming to the cathedral in that role every Wednesday for the last 20-plus years. She didn't mind a bit she said, she looked forward to it. "It's my spiritual home," she declared, as she lead me around the cathedral interior, complaining that she wasn't "what she used to be" now that she had to use a walking stick - and could I please walk slower. She asked to see some of my photographs and was perhaps a little bemused. "I've never seen anyone photographing the chairs before," she said. "But I'm a painter myself and now that I see your photos I can see why you were inspired." www.holy-trinity.org.nz