Abbey honours 150th anniversary of Charles Dickens

Tuesday, 9th June 2020

Abbey honours 150th anniversary of Charles Dickens

The life and work of one of the nation’s greatest authors, Charles Dickens, is celebrated today, Tuesday 9th June, with a private wreath laying behind closed doors and the release of a stunning new film of a sound and light installation which was projected onto the Abbey’s iconic West Towers over the weekend.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, will lay a wreath and say prayers at the writer’s grave today at 5.30 pm in the Abbey’s South Transept. The service is taking place behind closed doors due to the coronavirus – it was due to be attended by the Dickens Fellowship and descendants of the author.

The projection on the Abbey’s West Towers, created by light and sound specialists, Luxmuralis, in collaboration with the Charles Dickens Museum, took place on Saturday evening. A three-minute film of the work has been released online today for Dickens fans worldwide to enjoy.

The work is rich and vivid, saturated in colour and dense with visual effects set against a stirring soundtrack which builds to form a dramatic and poignant tribute to the writer. It features illustrations, quotes and a new colourised photograph of the author taken from the exhibition ‘Technicolour Dickens: The Living Image of Charles Dickens’ which will launch at the Charles Dickens Museum as soon as it is able to re-open.

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle said:

We are so pleased that we have been able to honour the life and work of Charles Dickens despite the impact that the coronavirus is having on churches like the Abbey, and visitor attractions like the Charles Dickens Museum. Our thanks to Luxmuralis for creating such a wonderful tribute to a writer who 150 years after his death remains such an important part of the nation’s cultural heritage.

Luxmuralis are an artistic collaboration who create large scale fine art sound and light installations. Their work has been displayed on some of the country’s most important buildings, including many cathedrals. They are sculptor Peter Walker and composer David Harper.

Artistic Director of Luxmuralis, Peter Walker said:

It is a privilege to work with the Charles Dickens Museum and Westminster Abbey on this important anniversary. Dickens left behind a remarkable catalogue of works that have inspired artists for generations and when looking over his work it was fascinating to see how human emotions expressed over 150 years ago resonate so clearly with the situation we face today.

The Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty Street, London was the home of Charles Dickens and his family in the late 1830s. It is where the author wrote Oliver Twist, Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby and where he first achieved international fame as one of the world’s greatest storytellers. The house was purchased in 1922 by the Dickens Fellowship - a worldwide association set up in 1902 to celebrate and promote the legacy of the author - and opened as a museum in 1925.

Director of the Charles Dickens Museum, Cindy Sughrue, said:

We are delighted to be working in partnership with Luxmuralis and Westminster Abbey to bring together such a rich array of imagery to celebrate the life and work of Charles Dickens – as bold and bright as the man himself – and to set it against the iconic backdrop of the Abbey.

Images and video by Luxmuralis.