Stunning prints of all 42 of Britain’s Church of England cathedrals will be presented together for the first time. Photographer Peter Marlow tells us what inspired him.
YOU don’t have to be a Christian to be impressed by the echoey charisma of a cathedral in the dawn light. Photographer Peter Marlow certainly isn’t. “I’m not in the slightest bit religious, but often when I had completed my photographs, I would spend time sitting in the nave, absorbing the power of a place where, for centuries, people had experienced the energy, fear and balm of religion.” In 2008, Marlow was commissioned to shoot six cathedrals for a series commemorative postage stamps marking the 300th anniversary of the completion of St Paul’s. This inspired him to photograph all 42 Church of England cathedrals, using techniques in line with the first cathedral photographers from the 19th century. “I shot almost all of them at sunrise, using a large format plate camera, very old fashioned, with a hood over my head and long, two minute exposures.” How did this way of working affect the final photographs? “I think it needed that long exposure, it needed the two minutes of light going in the camera in order to absorb all the information from inside the cathedrals.”
The English Cathedral exhibition is showing at the Wapping Project Bankside from 24 July to 24 August. The book of the same name is out now.