Adventures in Deltiology

Do people still send postcards these days…?

Carlisle Cathedral 2020

Before the 2020 lockdown I was working on a project at Carlisle Cathedral. As Head of Visitor Services I was overseeing some significant changes across the site, including the retail offer and the refurbishment and relaunch of the gift shop. Despite the common misconception that “no-one sends postcards these days” they are still one of our biggest sellers. I was keen to update the small range with some new images and worked with longtime postcard publishers Judges on this range – I chose two existing images from our archive showing two parts of the cathedral which are popular with visitors but which weren’t already available as a souvenir, and I commissioned a local artist to produce a new artwork of the cathedral for a new gift range.

Firstly, the painting above, by David Hollins, was the jewel in the new range. Created exclusively for the cathedral, Dave’s popular views of Carlisle and Cumbria can be seen in exhibitions across the city. I was drawn to his vibrant use of colour and his bold lines which have enlivened the cathedral exterior, often difficult to capture because of the overwhelming darkness of the red sandstone. Dave’s painting has been reproduced on a small range of souvenirs including this postcard which is already proving popular.

The second in the new set of postcards is this image of a popular memorial window, photographed by John Cheal. The window was designed by the eminent artist Veronica Whall and is dedicated to 2nd Lt. Anthony Bowman who was killed in the First World War at Arras in May 1916, aged just 24. It depicts the journey front birth to death, showing the Nativity in the central panels, with a war graves cemetery beneath. Note the unshaven shepherd in the group on the right side; there is a theory, but no proof, that this may be a representation of Bowman himself, his visage seeming more contemporary than his counterparts.

Finally, another of John Cheal’s atmospheric photographs of the cathedral interior makes the third postcard. On the reverse we learn that, “The wooden painted panels on the rear of the choir stalls depict the Apostles and the lives of the Saints: Cuthbert, Augustine of Hippo and Antony of Egypt. They were painted in the late 1400s and are rare survivors.” A shaft of light illuminates one of the cathedral’s Norman stone columns and a section of these must-see paintings.

Sadly I am no longer working at the cathedral, but I’m really pleased to have been able to produce these postcards as part of the final work I was engaged in. They are available from the cathedral’s gift shop so pick one of two up and keep in touch with friends and family in the best way!

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