Ascalon Sculpture

Ascalon sculpture, St George's Cathedral, Perth

Public Art : Ascalon Sculpture

Sculptors/Artists : © Marcus Canning and Christian de Vietri

Description : Named after the lance used by St George to slay the dragon, the Ascalon sculpture depicts various abstract representations of St George's victory over the dragon. The white flowing central piece, which represents the slain dragon, wraps itself around a long tube, which symbolizes the lance. If you look closely you will notice a crack running along the central axis, which is where the lance has entered the beast. At night a single beam of light shines up into the heavens from the end of the lance. The base is made from black epoxy coated steel and represents the fragmented landscape.

Date Unveiled : The blessing of the sculpture took place on the 3rd of April, 2011.

Funding : The Ascalon was funded by private donations.

Location : Outside St George's Cathedral on St George's  Terrace, Perth, Western Australia.

History and Background : In 2009, Western Australian artists Marcus Canning and Christian de Vietri were commissioned to create a contemporary sculpture. The theme? St George and the Dragon. Canning and de Vietri beat 98 other submissions from around the world after a call out by the St George and the Dragon Public Artwork Commissions in July 2008. The selection panel were impressed by the design named "Ascalon" (the lance used by St George to slay the dragon), in which their aim was to "evoke a sense of righteous power and victory over a force of darkness and oppression." and gave the thumbs up to the local duo. On the 15th June, 2009 were officially announced the winners.

Artist's Statement : " Ascalon seeks to create a space of contemplation , exhilarationand inspiration. It distills the essence of St George mythology in a contemporary, abstracted rendition that is timeless in its relevance, evoking the greater archetypal truths that permeate from his story and how these truths pertain to the individual and to society, now and for centuries to come."

Background of St George : St George was claimed to be a Christian martyr who was born in Palestine. St George became a Roman soldier (like his father) who ironically became a member of the personal guard attached to Roman Emperor Diocletian. Emperor Diocletian, not being a very nice man, ordered the persecution of Christians in AD303. George was ordered to participate in the killing and torture but refused and instead declared himself a Christian. This did not make the emperor very happy and he ordered the torture and execution of his guard. After being put through the most ghastliest of tortures, George was decapitated. So horrified was one witness that when he told  Empress Alexandra and Athanasiusto of George's plight he convinced them to become Christians, so they too could joined George in martyrdom. George's body was returned to Lydda where Christians soon headed there to honor him. In 494, George was canonised as a saint by Pope Gelasius I.

Background of St George and the Dragon : So how did the connection between St George and the Dragon develop? There are many versions and legends about "St George and the Dragon" but one of the Western versions goes something like this; A dragon living near the city of Lydda (or city of Silene in Libya) decides to make its nest right near the spring which provides the water supply to the city. The desperate locals, who were unable to retrieve the water from the spring, had to devised a plan quickly. So they decided that each day they would choose a sheep or a virgin (by drawing lots) to be sacrificed to the dragon. The reasoning was that the dragon would have to move off its nest to devour the poor soul thus allowing the city folk to grab the water from the spring. One day a poor princess drew the short straw (so to speak) and despite objections from the monarchy was sent off to become the dragon's next feed. St George who was riding through the city, minding his own business, sees the princess in distress and bravely confronts the fiery beast. He raises his lance and slays the dragon. So grateful are the city folk they abandon their paganistic ways and convert to Christianity.

Other myths and  legends include , the battle between the storm god Tarhun and the dragon Illuyankas, the story of Perseus who kills the Dragon saving thus the maiden Andromeda, or the defeat of Typhon by Zeus.


 

Ascalon sculpture, St George's Cathedral, Public art

Ascalon sculpture, St George's Cathedral, Public art

Ascalon sculpture, St George's Cathedral, Public art

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