Image, Pattern, Repetition: The Craft of Romanesque Sculpture in Southwest England

Speaker: Dr Alex Woodcock - writer, tutor and former cathedral stonemason

Repetition is a crucial aspect of the Romanesque sculptural repertoire. Geometric patterns are a good example, both visually arresting and highly flexible, able to be used across all manner of architectural features from fonts to doorways to individual carved stones. Their ubiquity, however, coupled with a broader legacy of understanding the decorative as secondary to figurative works, has, perhaps, left a lingering cloud of under-appreciation. Drawing upon material from Devon and Cornwall, English counties rich in daisywheel, palmette, star and many other motifs, this lecture explores how we might consider the nuances of repeated forms and their production. Combined with insights taken from craft processes and working stone it will consider just what repetition – in both process and output – might be able to reveal about the Romanesque southwest and its sculpture, along the way seeking new contexts for little-known works, their producers and patrons.

Dr Alex Woodcock is a writer, tutor and former cathedral stonemason. Following his PhD in medieval sculpture he spent six years working at Exeter Cathedral during which time he contributed to major projects including the conservation of its west front. His written work includes academic articles as well as books aimed at a general readership such as Gargoyles and Grotesques (Bloomsbury, 2011), Of Sirens and Centaurs (Impress, 2013) and King of Dust (Little Toller, 2019). In 2015 his essay on the Romanesque sculpture of Cornwall won the Cardew-Rendle history prize. He teaches on the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship degree and is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Organised by the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland.

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21 Apr - 21 Mar 2022

Thursday 21st April 2022, 6pm - 7.30pm BST

Free, booking essential

Vernon Square, Lecture Theatre1 and Online via Livestream

Please note this event will be live streamed to allow those outside London access to the event. All those who wish to access the event via this online method should book a ‘Livestream’ ticket rather than ‘Lecture Theatre’ ticket.

Booking closes 30 minutes before the event start time.


Photograph of a discoloured stone carved archway
The south doorway at Shebbear, North Devon. Photograph by Alex Woodcock.