I enjoy seeing a place from a new perspective. Salisbury is a 20 minute drive from my home so I get to visit regularly. Earlier this year the city hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when two people were exposed to a nerve agent, and whenever I went there it was noticeable that fewer people were visiting.
Today, though, something was very different. Wherever I looked I saw paper doves. They were in shop windows, on flower boxes, and there was even a table inviting people to make their own origami dove. I walked towards the cathedral where I had booked a tour of the famous tower (more of that in the next article). The centrepiece of the dove display was inside.
Salisbury has had a cathedral since 1092 when one was constructed at Old Sarum, about a mile from the city. When the new city was built after 1220 a cathedral followed and has been at the centre of the community ever since. Today there is something quite magnificent about the main aisle. Over 2500 paper doves have been suspended in mid air and the effect is mesmerising.
Les Colombes is a message of peace and has been installed in Salisbury Cathedral to mark the end of the centenary of World War One. However, the nerve agent events in Salisbury earlier in 2018 give it even more poignancy as a message of peace today. Created by Michael Pendry, Les Colombes has been exhibited in Jerusalem, Munich, London, Berlin, and San Francisco. On each occasion Michael Pendry encourages the local community to get involved by folding their own doves. They are used in the current and future installations. In Salisbury local businesses and homes have made doves which fly in buildings around the city as a symbol of reconciliation.
Today the doves weave their way like a wave of white through the ancient columns of the cathedral. floating above the heads of worshipers. Some fly close to the historic stained glass windows, or weave round an arch, adding perspective to the designs. People stare, enchanted by the glorious shape of folded paper as the doves fly above them towards the altar, bringing their messages of peace.
The organ plays softly as I wander through the aisle, viewing the doves from different angles and marvelling at the effectiveness of a simple piece of white paper, expertly folded.
Les Colombes is in Salisbury Cathedral until 22 July 2018 and enabled me to see a city I know well in a new light- and a place of peace.