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End of the day (30/10/12) All Saints’ Billesley

Lodged within the light box that is the south transept at All Saints’ Billesley are two pieces of carved stone from former times. The first is a tympanum, beautifully carved, depicting a man being chased by evil (a serpent and dragon) and moving towards the Holy Spirit (a dove).  

Beneath such intricate and embroidered beauty lies a lump of stone which in the half-light of the early morning didn’t amount to much in terms of visual beauty. I could just make out the linear outline of a pattern.

Later on in the day when the sun had swung low and hard to the west my lump of stone took on a completely different aspect.

As the sunlight eddied through the Georgian glass of the bulls eye window, and crept along the face of the stone, a revelation took place:

Whilst lighting up the oolitic relief, darkness pooled into the deep undercutting and within a few minutes the pattern was alive. 

And it dawned upon me.

This is how the originators must have meant their carvings to be seen - firstly in the darkness and then suddenly exposed in relief - a piece of visual magic combining skill, time and light.

Not only this - but as I watched - the pattern swayed and eddied with the movement of the light - different parts lit up, whilst others disappeared. 

Only a mindset with a different gearing of time could have created such a thing. Time on a different level. 

Such an appreciation of this art has now been lost with our quick-fire world and racing minds. We stand for a moment and see the hard tooled stone, without really seeing.

I sat for an hour and watched - completely taken by the moment - sinking into a timelessness that I had not experienced before.

A full hour felt like the blink of an eye.

And when the light was gone - my mind shifted gear from their world back to ours.