Simon Standing


There have been a number of publications that have set out to clarify the relationship between architectural, liturgical and ritual developments within the nineteenth century Anglican church; especially that part of the Victorian Gothic Revival where fundamental developments in architectural design and doctrinal change occurred - 1840 to 1900. A variety of graphic illustrations have supported these texts and as a photographer who has had a long standing interest in visual forms of religious expression, it has raised the question as to whether new meanings of the architectural/ ecclesiastical relationship could be established through a photographic-based research investigation. During the MPhil stage of the project the research brief was directed towards the selection of churches for detailed investigation and the construction of the photographic methodology appropriate to the research. Within the national developments of this period, Devon was a particularly significant county in respect of nineteenth century architectural and ecclesiological advancement, containing individual buildings such as St Andrew's Exwick, the presence of architects such as William Butterfield and George Edmund Street, and one of the most active ecclesiological groups to exist outside that of the Cambridge Camden Society and the Oxford Tractarians - the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society. It was from this basis that the subject of the PhD has been developed. Using photography as primary material the methodology utilises physical and conceptual viewpoints to explore the uses of spatial configuration, light, structural forms and colour, surface and texture within each interior. This work has provided the visual form through which it has been possible to re-examine the visual and symbolic use of architectural expression and make direct visual comparison between the churches. At the same time the photographic images are important pieces of design work which will be presented as both visual documents and creative interpretations. The final thesis has been constructed from an exhibition which uses the formulations of panoramic, composite and sequential photographic imagery and a critical text that aligns the elements of historical contextualisation and analysis of the photographic enquiry. The research argues that the photographic works, by applying contemporary practices in the form of reconstructions, re-establishes the meaning and purpose of the architectural designs and promotes the use of photography as primary research.

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