The small and rather wonderful Hawksmoor exhibition at Somerset House is all about the Hawksmoor churches across London city, but it’s also for me about the way the photographer, Hélène Binet, frames the churches. There’s the focusing down on to wall or window as well as the broader view without, and the marvellous angles within, which bring out the mass and weightiness of stone matched to an lightness and sureness of touch such that it seems Hawksmoor never got the angles wrong. The geometry still amazes today, and the mind marvels how such churches could be envisaged let alone built.
Hawksmoor weighed the sky-born Gothic down to earth, he built mass upwards, and created structures that fly high but never soar, there’s always that very biblical tension between earth and air. In medieval times in church you took off to heaven, for a brief sojourn away, in Hawksmoor churches you stay firmly on the ground, which is where by the early 18th century wise men thought we all should be.