Odds and quads

The crucifix behind the altar in the chapel at Leeds Trinity University College (shown here as a work in progress) has a number of unusual features.

May 24, 2012

When the college commissioned Charles I'Anson, then senior lecturer in sculpture, to create it in 1970, he was determined to portray the living Christ in His final moments, wrenching Himself away from the cross, rather than, as is more usual, after His death.

I'Anson started work in his study at Leeds Trinity on a life-sized figure modelled on his own body, before finding it easier to move operations to his house and garden. He even suspended himself from the bars in the gym to work out the exact musculature.

The pose, with Christ's weight carried by His wrists and feet, presented additional technical challenges.

Pure bronze would have been too heavy, so I'Anson created a mould from clay and then poured in a combination of bronze powder resin and glass fibre - even though colleagues from the Royal British Society of Sculptors and a car-repair firm that regularly used the material told him this would not work.

In the event and despite a number of false starts, his determination allowed him to complete the sculpture in 18 months.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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