Wirral artist’s wearable work of art to find new home in Cape Town Cathedral

Wirral artist is to receive a unique honour this week, when he travels to Lambeth Palace to witness one of his artworks, created for the late Archbishop of Cape Town Dr Desmond Tutu, be blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, before it travels to a new home in South Africa.

Terry Duffy, born in Liverpool whose studio is on the beach at Hoylake, is an artist with an international reputation for unique and challenging work over five decades, including the creation of unique technicolour copes – a semi-circular religious vestment worn by senior members of the Christian church – depicting deeply moving and provocative historical scenes of inhumanity and terror alongside words of unity and hope.

The copes themselves are based on Terry’s enormous and spectacular paintings interpreting his response to people’s quests for truth and reconciliation in the aftermath of life-changing, horrifying, and nationally and internationally significant events.

His latest cope was created following a trip to South Africa in 2014 when he met with Archbishop Tutu at Cape Town Cathedral where his striking 14-foot high painting in the shape of a crucifix, ‘Victim, no Resurrection’ had been installed as the centrepiece to an event commemorating 20 years since the end of Apartheid in 1994.

‘Victim, no Resurrection’ is a metaphor for the plight of victims across cultures in search of greater peace and understanding and since its completion has constantly been exhibited in churches and cathedrals around the world.

The meeting and long discussion with Archbishop Tutu resulted in Duffy being inspired to create a Truth and Reconciliation cope for the great man himself and although designed and created while the Archbishop was still alive, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented any chance of delivery, before he died in December 2021.

With the creative and technical support and expertise of photographer Mark Howard, Duffy was able to create complex digital photomontage of imagery that depicts not only Mandela, Biku, and Tutu but also the atrocities brought upon black South Africans during Apartheid.

At Lambeth Palace in London on the morning of 3 February, the Archbishop of Canterbury will officially bless the cope created by Duffy. It will then be passed to Michael Weeder the Dean of St George’s Cathedral Cape Town for it to be worn in Cape Town and throughout South Africa to commemorate the life of Desmond Tutu, in remembrance of those who were victims of Apartheid and in hope and reconciliation for the future of South Africa.

Terry Duffy said, “Victim, No Resurrection generated a deep response in Archbishop Tutu because it reminded him of the cruel and horrific realities of Apartheid, the inhumanity and lives lost and destroyed during that time.

“It led to discussions with Cape Town Cathedral’s Dean Michael Weeder from which the Tutu Cope painting emerged and which was then turned into this beautiful vestment itself.

“The process for every cope I have made has been a profoundly moving experience, then becoming a great honour when the cope is blessed and worn by the people they are designed for as they seek reconciliation between peoples.

“This is certainly true of the Tutu Cope given what happened in South Africa for nearly 50 years and the role Desmond Tutu played during the time and particularly afterwards through the Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

“The blessing ceremony will take on extra poignancy now that Archbishop Tutu has sadly died, but I am still very pleased that the cope will go to South Africa and be used by others as a symbol of what he and others strived for and which, of course, continues today. 

“Each of the four copes I have finished has stitched into it: “Whoever wears this cope has the power to change minds”. The words reflect the power of truth as depicted on the vestments and whether you believe in religious practices or not, it is often to the church that people turn in times of great anguish and is central to the idea of forging lasting peace, reconciliation, truth and unity.”

The Tutu Cope is Terry Duffy’s fourth such undertaking and the previous copes are:

Coventry-Dresden Cope: dedicated on Ash Wednesday 2016 by the Bishop of Coventry, to be used for commemorative occasions by those involved in the work of Reconciliation and the Community of the Cross Of Nail in the two cities, inextricably linked through the bombing horrors and terrors both endured during World War II, 1940 and 1945 respectively. The two cities twinned in 1959 as a gesture of peace and reconciliation.

Windrush Cope: commissioned for the Windrush 70th anniversary at Westminster Abbey June 2018 and worn by the Dean. It is now a legacy piece used to raise awareness of cultural inequality and to promote wider understanding and celebration of Black Culture. It was also depicted in David Olusoga’s TV programme, The Secret Windrush Files. It is in constant use around the UK.

Remembrance Cope: a legacy vestment first worn by the Bishop of Coventry on Remembrance Sunday 2018, for the centenary commemoration since the end of World War I. It features a British and German soldier looking across a divide in hope of reconciliation surrounded by battle scenes and carries the words ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’. As well as this it depicts a wide range of soldiers from other nations and religions who fought alongside Britain during the World Wars.  Visiting Coventry from Kenya, Bishop Paul Korir, whose grandfather had fought in World War I, also wore the cope at another service on Remembrance Sunday.

All four copes centrally feature the Victim, no Resurrection crucifix.

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