Saint George & the Dragon
Selected for a shortlist of 10 from 98 international submissions for St. George's Cathedral, Perth, Australia
Description of proposed sculpture.
My intention was to produce an impressionistic bronze sculpture depicting a life sized St. George with the dragon rising 6m above him. The arches of its body and wings were to create an architectural vault to reflect the architecture of the neo-Gothic cathedral in front of which it would have stood; and it was hoped that at certain points of the day its shadow might suggest a transient cross of St. George.
Rather than depicting the usual image of St. George slaying the dragon in symbolism of the victory of good over evil, I wished rather to create an image of his courageous struggle against a power (in temporal terms) stronger than him; a reflection of George’s martyrdom at the hands of Diocletian in a world where the way of Christ is the way of the cross. The figure of the saint was to be be life-sized (and no larger) because I hoped that people would thereby be able to relate to his humanity. He was to be nude, both to emphasize his vulnerability and to participate in the Christian-humanist tradition of Renaissance art, which viewed the human body as a divine creation; a symbol of man created in the image of God.
The dragon was to overshadow and dwarf the saint who would be killed by it, for I believe it is important that the Christian message should not be depicted as an easy option. Neither, however, should it seem a message for despair. I am reminded of the words of the eminent Oxford linguist, Bruce Mitchell, who writing of another dragon-slain dragon fighter, Beowulf, said:
“Of course Beowulf’s efforts were wasted in one sense…..the efforts of all great men in a sense come to nothing. This is true of little men too. Yet there is no need for despair:
The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them.
Today in this nuclear age, with man’s inhumanity to man daily more apparent on all levels and the powers of darkness in seeming ascendancy throughout the world, we may see Beowulf as a triumphant affirmation of the value of a good life”.