Above is the name of the artist; ‘The Stones of England’ is the exhibition’s title; and the subject is given as ‘East Anglian Cathedrals and Pagodas’.
Above are photographs of two of the many charcoal drawings supposedly of East Anglian cathedrals – Ely and Norwich I think, but does it matter? I let them speak for themselves for I may be prejudiced in my view that without exception these drawings are in no sense a record, or even illustration, of the subject. If East Anglian cathedrals make Mr Creffield produce images like this, fair enough; but these drawings seem to me to show his complete lack of sensitivity to what a cathedral is about such as its architecture, its mass, its volume, its history, its iconography, its wonderful visual detail both externally and inside, and its context in a particular locality. They also seem to me to be insensitive artistically in that all the marks have the same weight. Nor do they say anything about ‘The Stones of England’ – what an insult to the glorious geological creations that English cathedrals are.
And furthermore these drawing are completely useless if they are meant to be in any sense a record as is implied by the commission from the Arts Council which provided the impetus for the artist to visit all the cathedrals in England. I say that as someone who has been involved in the recording of a cathedral or two, and many ecclesiastical buildings too. I just do not understand why these drawings have been so highly praised – perhaps someone out there can enlighten me? Frankly, if I had produced them, – and I have produced similar, for I love drawing in charcoal – I would have binned them.
So it is a mystery to me why the National Trust also commissioned Mr Creffield to visit Orford Ness in the 1990s, presumably to make some sort of record of this, by Trust standards at the time, extraordinary landscape soon after its acquisition from the Ministry of Defence. Below is one of the results; it is entitled ‘Orford Ness – The Pagodas and Control Tower’. Others from the Ness are also on display but this one alone makes my point. Someone, however, loves it, to the tune of paying £2800 to buy it.