Coalescence at Liverpool Cathedral

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Photo: Gareth Jones

Coalscence at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool 10 February — 12 March 2023 Entrance is free — Visit now

Liverpool Cathedral’s art programme continues with a brand new, large-scale installation ‘Coalescence’ by artist Paul Cocksedge.

Hanging high below the spectacular ceiling of the Anglican temple are thousands of pieces of anthracite coal – shiny black lumps reflecting the light, which changes throughout the day. Some moments it glimmers with gold, other times there is a silvery sheen. Standing directly below the suspended work is a little bit like looking up at an incredibly starry sky.

The titular ‘coalescence’ works on multiple levels too: clearly referring to the coal used in the making of the piece, as well as the particles being part of a larger whole. In fact, altogether the anthracite pieces come to half a tonne of coal which is exactly the amount needed to power one 200W light bulb for a year.

Photo: Gareth Jones


While we may not usually use light bulbs this powerful in our homes, the piece strives to visualise the energy consumption of the modern world, with a very visceral illustration of the amount and weight of fossil fuel still being used on a regular basis. With the UK’s net zero targets still being a distant dream, the artist reminds us of the cost of energy use, where it comes from and how it is sourced.

One of the most satisfying aspects of the installation is that the suspended pieces of coal seem to form a perfect sphere, whichever angle it’s seen from which adds to the three-dimensionality of the final work. Fittingly, the grand setting allows visitors plenty of space to walk around, sit directly underneath or go up the side steps to see the work from different perspectives.

Photo: Gareth Jones
Picture by Gareth Jones


Perhaps surprisingly given the chosen subject matter, Coalescence has a poetic feel to it. Cocksedge chose a material which is usually associated with dirt and pollution and literally elevated it high above ground, bringing out the surprising natural beauty of the polished pieces. Perfectly placed in a setting that invites reflection and contemplation, the piece invites further discussion about sustainability and juxtaposes the environmental crisis with the unexpected aesthetic allure of the material itself.

The artist has previously worked with local craftsmen and many of his older pieces have been created in Liverpool. He has exhibited locally and internationally, including Liverpool, London, Hong Kong and New York.

Coalescence is part of Liverpool Cathedral’s current programme of events leading up to its 100th anniversary in 2024.

Coalscence at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool 10 February — 12 March 2023 Entrance is free Visit now


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