One of the great pleasures of being in London is that is almost impossible to walk through central London without finding something unexpected and beautiful. I walked past the Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great in Smithfield today and had time to venture inside. It is London’s oldest Parish Church, founded in 1123, and a place of exceptional beauty and calm serenity.
What I had not expected to find was the sculpture, Exquisite Pain, by Damian Hirst as the first thing which greets you on entering. It depicts St Bartholomew having been flayed alive. In the normal course of events, I am not a fan of Damien Hirst but I will admit that in this setting the piece is very powerful. And the glittering finish of the work, which would look gaudy in a white walled gallery, plays well against the muted colours and lighting of this ancient Church.
There are a few other images of the church below. It is extraordinary what images you can capture with a phone today.