We are pleased to have just received these images from renowned British sculptor, Nigel Boonham who designed this ambo for the Church of Australia’s Chapel of St. Peter Chanel in Rome *. Working from his drawings and sculpted clay patterns, we cast and machined over 35 different pieces to create the 1.6 metre tall lectern which is topped by an ornamental rotating book stand.
The Ambo took about twelve months to plan, design and realize and it is likely that very few brass lecterns such as this, which is similar in mass and scale to the original mediaeval lecterns, have been cast in the last 300 years.
After researching ancient lecterns in English Cathedrals, some superb mouldings from the Lincoln Cathedral lectern of 1669 gave Nigel inspiration to create the pillar that holds aloft the bookstand of the ambo.
The Ambo of the Apostles was originally designed for St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney but a change of plan meant that the Rome project took precedence. The predominant, traditional form for a brass lectern is an eagle with open wings on a supporting globe but Nigel wanted to make that was something different and in keeping with the theme of the Altar/Statues Triptych in St Mary’s. These depict the events in the last days of Christ’s life and it seemed appropriate to show the twelve Apostles of that time, even though they included Judas Iscariot. However, in the event there was also just enough room in the design to include St Matthias, who was the replacement twelfth Apostle after the death of Judas.
Traditionally the feet of an ambo would have been lions, but His Eminence suggested kangaroos would be more in keeping with the Australian setting. This proved a happy suggestion although it proved somewhat tricky to engineer the base with the weight of the ambo resting solely on their tails. The traditional globe was incorporated further down the stem combining the traditional and contemporary elements into a bold and impressive structure.
We are proud of our association with Nigel and we are very pleased to be working on the new ambo for St. Mary’s, which is now nearing completion to a different design to that originally planned.
* The chapel is based in Domus Australia, a new boutique Guest House in central Rome which offers a calm and welcoming refuge from the busy tourist pace of the Eternal City.
Home to its own Roman ruins, the historic Italian building complex of accommodation surrounds a central courtyard which was completely restored in 2011 and offers beautiful and very comfortable facilities for pilgrims and leisure and business travellers of any faith.
Image courtesy of Nigel Boonham