The Western Wall Art Glass Project

Eight glass sculptures in the Herodian Second Temple catacombs under the Old City of Jerusalem.

Internationally renowned glass artist Jeremy Langford has just completed a four year commission creating one of the most exciting Art projects ever. Eight huge monolithic glass sculptures at Judaism’s holiest site-The Kotel-The Western (sometimes known as the Wailing) Wall.

The Artwork is being created at the holiest site to Judaism, right next the third most holy site of Islam (after Mecca and Medina) and close-by to many of the holiest sites to Christianity. Because of the biblical prohibition on graven images and the religious sensitivity of the site it was decided to create these sculptures in a modern non-figurative design style. Thus came about an incredible polarity of form, a dichotomy of time lines, a juxtaposition of ancient architecture and 21st century art.

A huge amount of history is buried underground in Jerusalem, simply waiting intact and in good condition, to be rediscovered and be part of the 21st Century. Over the last 35 years extensive excavations have been carried out in various parts of the Old City of Jerusalem. Many fascinating finds have been discovered but undoubtedly the most outstanding of them are the excavations into the Herodian second temple period by the Western Wall.

This site has been dug extensively and some amazingly well preserved findings have emerged, including whole intact buildings from over the last 2000 years and ruins dating back to the Temple of Solomon. The sculptures are being created as the main exhibit in a visitor’s center of the Western Wall Second Temple Tunnels project. The sculptures are designed to represent different scenes from the Biblical Narrative from the early period of the Patriarchs through different biblical scenes up until the return of the Jews to Israel today.

The sculptures are constructed from tens of thousands of pieces of specially treated float glass, range in size from 160 cm to this largest-a free form sculpted column of over 9 meters height. The combined weight of glass used in the artwork is almost 150 tons. The first room sets the tone with basic carved glass columns. The column was chosen as the symbol of the Jewish people.

The columns then go through a process of building, destruction and rebuilding through to the final long memorial wall to the fallen soldiers of Jerusalem that leads out to the Western Wall. All the columns are engraved with Hebrew lettering-names of individuals from each historic period from Early Biblical times through the different time frames up to the present day.

One of the techniques used is the cold glass method of stacked glass, because of its powerful aesthetic expression as well as the inherent symbolism of the layers upon layers of glass representing the layers of civilization and cultures inherent in the site.

Jeremy Langford is an internationally recognized British glass artist and sculptor now living in Israel. He is recognized as the leading glass artist in Israel today. He is a master glass artist working in over thirty different techniques. He creates superbly designed glass sculpture and stained glass for architectural settings and is commissioned to create fine art pieces for private collections and museums around the world.

His specialty is working in glass sculpture on a monumental scale. His philosophy is to strive for perfection in design and quality and to ‘stretch the limits’ in terms of technique and design. His unique approach to art glasswork has earned him commissions for prestigious public and residential buildings, synagogues and a wide range of VIP’s and celebrities. Jeremy has a very deep relationship with glass.

Having studied the Kabbalah for over 25 years he feels an intrinsic correlation between his mystical discipline and the medium of his choice “I find it a very spiritual medium,” he states.

“The production of glass requires a process of heat and pressure until sand is transformed into one of the most beautiful and versatile materials known to man. I am an innate optimistic who believes in the potential good of humanity. For me this is what this exhibition is all about; anything is possible in life with dedication and determination. Beyond the basic history of the Jewish People, it is a metaphor for transformation and hope. Never give up, always look to the future, and hold a vision. If this is done, success will invariably follow.”

Therefore, glass is the ideal medium for this exhibit. Its symbolisms are clear and its expression on site is perfect. The translucency of glass allows a powerful expression of the ideas of the sculptures while blending into the ancient architecture and not overpowering it.

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