Major Commissions


Commission case study Liverpool Met Cathedral Processional Cross and Acolyte Candles 2020


Rauni Higson | Image Stephen Heaton

The processional cross and acolyte candles are unique to our Cathedral and express something of the Cathedral with Christ at the centre. They form a wonderful piece of design and craftsmanship which will enhance our liturgical celebrations for many years to come.’

Father Anthony O’Brien, Dean of Liverpool Cathedral

“I am so grateful that I was trusted to create these pieces for the Cathedral, it really is an honour, and it’s the most incredible experience I’ve had so far in my career, no question. When we carried the pieces up the ramp into the sanctuary, and the beautiful light from the stained glass hit the silver, I felt them come alive. It took my breath away. I couldn’t be more pleased that the response has been so positive.”

Rauni Higson, Designer

“What a totally uplifting day… They look totally inspirational. They fit in so well with Raphael’s beautiful colour. The stained glass makes the cross come alive. What a beautiful and inspirational piece for the Cathedral in these dark times.”

Alan Whittaker, Chair of the Art Committee at the Cathedral

Liverpool Cathedral is the Cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Liverpool, built on St James’s Mount in Liverpool, and the seat of the Bishop of Liverpool.

With a height of 331 feet (101 m) it is also one of the world’s tallest non-spired church buildings and the third-tallest structure in the city of Liverpool.

Consecrated in 1968, the cathedral is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building.

The Cathedral had never had a Processional Cross and the brief was to create a new processional set that reflected the powerful modern aesthetic of the building, which was light enough to carry, practical, easy to clean, and robust enough for weekly use.

The Cathedral is ‘in the round’ with no pillars obstructing the view, so it was important to me that the cross would appear as a cross from any direction, as it processes around the circular space. The architecture is striking, and the feel inside is uplifting, drawing focus upwards to the incredible stained glass of the crown like structure.

The design of the cross echoes this, drawn together at the top with the gold crown of thorns which stitch the eight ‘arms’ of the cross together. Each arm is hollow formed by hammering silver sheet, using the technique of Anticlastic raising, to create a strong structure that is light enough to carry.
There is a huge amount of invisible engineering, as all the parts fit together with bolts and bayonets, none of which are apparent to the viewer.

The Acolyte candles have removable sconces for ease of cleaning, and echo the eight sweeping arms of the cross. All the pieces have Ash wood shafts.

At the start of the commissioning process, I was invited to discuss the Cathedral’s needs, and then met the Dean and representatives from the Cathedral’s Art committee several times, showing concept models and drawings, which developed into more detailed plans over several months.

The final design was presented to the whole committee for approval before work began. The making process was long, with three large and complex pieces, with periodic updates. In this case, the client was patient, having set no specific deadline, and it was agreed to take extra time and care, then further delayed by the pandemic.

The pieces were delivered in October, 2020, and used for the first time at Midnight Mass, Christmas 2020. The Dean, Fr O’Brien said, “they were a wonderful Christmas gift to the cathedral.” The cross stands 2.3 metres (7 feet 6 inches) tall, the Candlesticks are **cm high and **cm in diameter.

If you would like to find out more about the commissioning process, Rauni would be delighted to have an informal no-obligation chat. You can also find more information here.

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