Gargoyles and grotesques are an immediate and appealing feature of many historic churches and cathedrals. Often carved into fantastic monsters and imaginative, bold, sometimes obscene figures, they have largely been dismissed as whimsical and indeed, incongruous with their setting, at best something the masons managed to ‘get away with’ when the patron was looking the other way.
In this talk Dr Alex Woodcock explores the theories advanced over the last century and a half for their presence on churches and how this type of imagery has consistently antagonised critics, before looking more closely at the complexities of the grotesque and what it might reveal to us about medieval churches and the wider medieval world.
You can buy Dr Alex Woodcock's book on Gargoyles and Grotesques through our online store.
Dr Alex Woodcock is a writer, stonemason and artist immersed in the worlds of medieval sculpture. His books include Gargoyles and Grotesques (Bloomsbury, 2011), Of Sirens and Centaurs (Impress, 2013) and King of Dust (Little Toller, 2019). Between 2008 and 2014 he worked at Exeter Cathedral as a stonemason, playing a key role in the conservation of its internationally significant west front. He teaches on the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship foundation degree and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. His website is www.alexwoodcock.co.uk and he can be found on twitter @beakheads.