A crucified Star Wars Stormtrooper on display at a historic London church has been granted a stay of execution after it caused a stir among parishioners.
Artist Ryan Callanan created the ‘controversial’ statue, which shows a fictional Star Wars soldier hanging on a life-sized cross.
It was due to be unveiled today as the centrepiece of the Art Below’s ‘Stations of the Cross’ exhibition held inside the London-based church.
A crucified Star Wars Stormtrooper on display at a historic London church has been granted a stay of execution after it caused a stir among parishioners at St Stephen Walbrook
A priest arrived yesterday to decide whether to tear down the statue, after parishioners attending St Stephen Walbrook church in Central London complained to the rector, Reverend Jonathan Evens.
After a 30 minute meeting, the stormtrooper statue was moved from a prominent place at the front of the church to the back of the hall.
Ben Moore, the organiser of the event, said it will now go on sale after the exhibition on March 23, for £12,000.
Mr Moore said: ‘I explained the meaning of the piece, the way that some of them saw it is a stormtrooper is a very negative character.
‘I like to think of it as a New Hope – such as in the new Star Wars film, where John Boyega rebels against the dark side and fights for something good.’
He explained the meaning of the piece to church members, who compromised and allowed the piece to stay.
‘I didn’t intend to upset anyone, I like to raise awareness for my missing brother, I haven’t seen him since 2003.
‘This exhibition look to raise money in support of the Missing Tom fund, this shines a light on his case.
‘With respect to the parish, I didn’t want to upset anyone, I aim to create awareness and debate.’
A priest arrived yesterday to decide whether to tear down the statue, after parishioners attending St Stephen Walbrook church in Central London complained to the rector, Reverend Jonathan Evens. After a 30 minute meeting, the stormtrooper statue was moved from a prominent place at the front of the church to the back of the hall (pictured)
However, the Stormtrooper statue created mixed responses from local residents.
A nun, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘I didn’t find the big crucifixion offensive, it’s not my taste but there you go.’
Francis McKenna, from Isleworth, west London, said: ‘I thought the art was surprising – I’ve never seen things like this in a church.
‘The Star Wars character was a bit weird, I didn’t care for that so much.
‘I don’t understand the reason for it’s removal.’
Meanwhile, a St Stephen Walbrook churchgoer who wished to remain anonymous said: ‘It’s a bit silly really, why use our church.
‘It’s plainly offensive Christians to be honest.’
A woman named Elizabeth, 72, from Hertfordshire said: ‘I’m not an artist, but it’s unusual artwork isn’t it.
‘I didn’t feel that the Star Wars character was entirely appropriate.’
Reverend Evens said: ‘This is an exhibition of images designed to provoke thought from artists grappling with their response to the challenge and scandal of Christ’s cross.
‘Among these, Ryan Callahan’s Stormtrooper Crucifixion may be viewed as being among the more controversial images in the exhibition.’
Rev Evens added: ‘For me Stormtrooper Crucifixion raises similar questions to those which CS Lewis raised in his science fiction trilogy – that, were other races to exist on other planets, would Christ be incarnated among those races in order to die for their salvation?
‘Lewis’ view, which he sets out in the story running through the trilogy, is that Christ would do so.
‘For Christians, Ryan Callahan’s image can lead us a similar conclusion.
‘I commend these images to you as image that can open our ideas and minds to new reflections on the eternal significance of Christ’s sacrifice.’
The exhibition also features a pastel drawing that Francis Bacon donated to his Italian lover Cristiano Lovatelli Ravarino between 1977 and 1992.
It will be the third crucifixion-themed exhibition to be curated by Ben Moore in support of the Missing Tom Fund set up to find his brother Tom Moore, who was last seen in 2003.
St Walbrook is a 500-year-old domed church that survived the Blitz.