Being Human! Connecting, creating, knowing my identity, and reflecting


Today sees the unveiling of our latest major art installation in the Cathedral – ‘Being Human’. Once again, we are delighted to be working with internationally renowned artist and sculptor Peter Walker and his team. Peter already has a track-record of wowing audiences in Liverpool with the breath-taking ‘Space’ son et lumiere here last February and the stunning ‘Peace Doves’ last Summer. ‘Peace Doves’, although delayed a year because of Covid, landed perfectly here in 2021, just as the Cathedral was able to re-open as a visitor attraction for the first time since March 2020. And it totally caught the mood of the time.


I sense that “Being Human” builds on Peace Doves and Space. Peace Doves pointed us to God, and God’s desire for us to have peace in our world. ‘Space’ lifted our eyes to the majesty of the heavens. ‘Being Human’ invites us to explore inside ourselves, and our own responses to the world around us.


According to the Bible, all human beings are ‘made in the image of God’. So, what does that mean? Part of the answer to that, I believe, lies in us being people who want to be in a relationship with others, ie to connect with them. And that can happen physically, emotionally and spiritually. Part of the answer also lies in the desire to be creative – and notably we see that in the creative arts in all their forms. As humans, we should celebrate our identity. Identity celebrates what we all hold in common. (We all laugh, cry, sleep, bleed, for example!) Identity also rejoices in our remarkable diversity and individuality. Another aspect of being human is our ability to reflect on the past and to plan ahead for the future. All these things help to define what ‘being human’ means.


The art installation opening today is actually a series of installations in the Cathedral. We can even become part of the artworks! We are not just looking at them from a distance. As we enter the Cathedral, we are reminded of DNA, the building blocks of our bodies. We will see the giant hands – not quite touching! Perhaps a reminder of the last couple of years when physical touching has been so regulated and restricted? But we can stand in the space and bridge the gap! Just as Jesus did between humans and God 2000 years ago. We can walk among some examples of Peter’s remarkable creativity over the years by entering into a recreation of his studio. In another part of the Cathedral there will be a carpet of 5000 metal leaves, inscribed with the word ‘Hope’. Many of us have experienced loss over the last couple of years: loss of loved ones, loss of freedom, loss of confidence, loss of security, and loss of faith. This is an area where you are invited to pause and reflect on those things that you have lost, to remember them, mark the moment and then move on. We don’t have to be victims of our past – we can become survivors, often with help from others.


In a corner of the Derby Transept will be a ‘photo-booth’ – a place where you take a selfie. If you give us permission, your picture will form part of a special art installation that Peter is planning here in 2023. It will be on the theme of ‘Identity’.


We hope that all of these constituent parts of ‘Being Human’ will give us pleasure and fun. And also help us to explore what it means to ‘Be Human’. Who am I? Who are we? And whose are we? In this changing world, what does it mean to be an individual and also to be in relationshops with others?


The installation runs from Wednesday 27th July to 30th August during normal Cathedral opening hours. And it is free! You can find out more from our website:

There is no need to book – just turn up. You’ll find our other Cathedral attractions running as usual: the shop, the Tower, the Welsford Bistro and, of course, our regular pattern of services.


We’d love to welcome you through our doors to encounter ‘Being Human’ and to enter into the journey into what it means to be a human being!


With good wishes

Canon Neal