Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Spires have a unique identity. They are symbols that point to the heavens as they define earthly place: see - In order to reach high, they must stand firmly, based on the rock, both in reality and as the St. Peter metaphor, like the churches that they identify with their axis mundi. So it is that a floating spire looks an oddity.

The church under construction at Upper Coomera, in Queensland's southeast corner, stands as a surprise. The completed spire hovers as a classical white form, like a Wren, not a bird, supported on a scaffold of open steel framing. It is the first part of the church to be finished when it is usually the last, to be celebrated with the tree in the topping out ceremony see: Was the idea to save time and money? Steel is a puzzle too. Traditionally, cathedral builders were very conscious of the emotional qualities of the materials that were used in their places of worship. Stone and timber were natural, warm, organic materials, peaceful; steel, hard and cold, was the material of war. Wherever steel was used, it was manipulated into a decoratively playful form, like the florid altar screens, so as to overcome its message of aggression.

At Upper Coomera there are all the different messages on display, the opposites – the harshness of steel is celebrated by supporting the flippancy of the spire, a form aspiring to be a spire. It is fibreglass? The surprise here is that in spite of all this faking, the spire stuns with its image of integrity, as a symbol. It reverberates with meaning in spite of its theatrical individuality. Is this situation much the same as our branding of items today, where integrity and provenance mean nothing; where only the display is important? - see: Surely churches must have deeper meaning than this? Are we all losing our roots; our grounding on substance? Is this the problem of the modern world: a lack of simple honesty in what we all do: a disconnection with nature as we shrewdly, cleverly manipulate necessity for our self-interest?

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