Lord of the Dance is the title of a sculpture Simon Latham made in 1990 when he was resident artist at Peterborough Cathedral. It is composed of three entwined, tubular elements, and creates a lively, cruciform figure.
The title is shared with Sydney Carter’s well-loved hymn and the Hindu god Shiva. The image can be seen as a reference to the crucified Christ (“He opened wide his arms for us on the cross”) and draws to mind the Brazen Serpent, made by Moses and raised on a staff as a symbol of healing to the Israelites in the wilderness, which Christ understood to prefigure his own crucifixion. It also invites comparison with the snake entwined staff of Asclepius, who of all the gods of the ancient world is nearest to the ideal of Christ: his walking stick and snake is now a universal symbol of the medical profession.
Please do not reproduce images or film without permission of the artist.
Last year, Simon decided to recreate the life-sized sculpture that once stood in Peterborough Cathedral, whilst the other pieces on display were made between 1989 and 1992. He is delighted that these exhibits can be seen again together as a group. Some are carved from wood and others are made of plaster. Variations on the theme include a seated Christ in Majesty, often represented in cathedral carvings, and a reclining figure originally referring to St Paul at his conversion. Drawings, paintings and prints exploring the theme are exhibited with the sculptures alongside original photographs. It is imagery of hope, faith and sacrificial love, and he hopes you find it visually pleasing, still of interest and worth visiting - albeit virtually until the museum can reopen.
The graphic work includes four charcoal drawings: one each of his first two woodcarvings, another showing three views of the small plaster torso figure, and the last showing the reclining St Paul torso figure. There are three small black and white paintings exploring the confrontation of the two torso figures, and a colour poster of Sebastien Bourdon’s “Brazen Serpent” (1660) from Prado Museum, Madrid.
Simon Latham was born in 1964. He graduated from Oxford University as a Bachelor of Fine Art in 1987. Before coming to Peterborough Cathedral, he was Resident Artist at Plymouth College and Repton School. He became an Art Teacher in 1994 and has taught at schools in London and Dorset. In 2017, he retired from teaching and has been picking up the threads of past ideas and developing new ones.