Mary is a universal female figure present in nearly all spiritual and religious traditions. She maintains an infinite capacity to absorb and relieve the pain and suffering of all who come to her. She is the personification of the feminine principle, related to ideas of creativity, procreation, inner strength, love, and compassion.
— Bill Viola
Bill Viola, Mary, 2016. Photograph: Peter Mallet

Bill Viola, Mary, 2016. Photograph: Peter Mallet


About the work

Mary – the second work made for St Paul’s – was inaugurated in the North Quire aisle of the cathedral on 8 September 2016 to coincide with the Feast of Mary.

The work is comprised of a triptych of vertical colour plasma screens – two smaller screens flanking a larger central screen. The work is also supported by a cast carbon steel stand designed by Norman Foster and his team.

Moving through its five parts, the work describes a cycle of birth through to death, depicting both an eternal, universal Mary, and an earthly Mary representing human life on Earth.

As the Mother, she is a timeless icon that transcends daily contemporary existence that flows endlessly behind her as time and space are displaced. As earthly Mary, she is a seeker, a traveler, who takes her place in a vast natural world, on a difficult journey that endows her with strength and compassion. The pièta of Mary is the embodiment of eternal sorrow. This vision of death among the ruins represents an ailing and wounded humanity that Mary carries alone, providing a place of refuge and solace in the intimate sharing of grief and pain that her image as an icon offers to those who seek comfort.

As ‘container of the uncontainable,’ Mary encompasses all spiritual life.
— Kira Perov

Press Comments

a clash between modernity and timelessness, the superficial and the profound, the seductions of technology and the biological simplicity of nurturing a baby.
Rachel Halliburton, The Financial Times
Simply stunning
— Hunter Philp, Wallpaper magazine
This transposition of biblical imagery into multiple modern settings makes for a potent and genuinely mysterious experience.
Mark Hudson, The Telegraph

Production Credits

Production of Mary in Utah.

Production of Mary in Utah.

Bill Viola
Mary, 2016
Colour High-Definition video triptych on vertical plasma displays. 61" x 93" x 4" (155.4 x 237.2 x 9.9 cm)
Duration: 13:13 minutes

Executive producer

Kira Perov

Performers

Lola Gayle, Kian Sandgren, Alessia Patregnani, Jy Prishkulnik, Ariana Afradi, Guillermo Martinez, Deborah Puette, Braeden Marcott, Phil Pressler, Blake Viola, Shinichi Iova-Koga

PRINCIPAL PRODUCTION TEAM

Executive producer and editor: Kira Perov
Producer: Genevieve Anderson
Assistant director: Nick Conroy
Director of photography: Harry Dawson
Production designer: David Michael Max
Gaffers: Jake Sarfaty, Bobby Wotherspoon
Key Grips: John Brunold, Ryan McGuire
Special Effects: Giuliano Fiumani
Wardrobe Stylist: David Norbury
Editors: Brian Pete, Alex MacInnis

DESIGN TEAM

Stand Design: Norman Foster
Foster + Partners: David Nelson, Mike Holland, Adrian Weidman

FABRICATION AND INSTALLATION TEAM

Stand fabrication: E&D Engineering & Developments Ltd
Digital video system: Feltech: Andrew Diggins
Bill Viola Studio director: Bobby Jablonski

SURVEYORS TO THE FABRIC OF ST PAUL'S CATHEDRAL

Martin Stancliffe (until 2012)
Oliver Caroe (from 2012)

CLERK OF THE WORKS OF ST PAUL'S CATHEDRAL

Martin Fletcher

OFFICIAL DOCUMENTARIAN

Gerald Fox

PROJECT COORDINATION

Blain|Southern
Graham Southern, Stephanie Camu