The Great Nave

... read on


Every year in January the chairs are removed from the Great Nave in Winchester Cathedral and visitors get the opportunity, though I suspect not this year for obvious reasons, to see how this vast Cathedral would have looked in ancient times.

The Nave is bedecked with great banners with religious motifs brightly coloured in golds, blues and reds representative of how it would have been decorated in medieval times with painted stonework, woodwork and statuary.

Photographically the challenge is how to represent the truly vast scale of the three dimensional open space that is revealed by the hundreds of chairs being removed, on the two dimensional photographic medium?

In the end I chose to use a wide angle (21mm) lens and deliberately included people to give the images scale. My normal approach is to apply the technique of Absent Presence to consciously exclude people to imbue the pictures with a more timeless feel but I think that would not have worked in this instance.

Image courtesy of Winchester Cathedral
Image courtesy of Winchester Cathedral

Someone at The Cathedral did something clever one year which was to create the above panoramic shot of the Great Nave which gives a great impression of the breadth of space but unfortunately neither its depth nor its scale.

This gave me an idea for going back again one year with my panoramic camera, my Horizon 202, or simply with my iPhone in panoramic mode or maybe both? Sometime post pandemic of course. All of my images above were taken from my archives of happier times here.