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A Thousand Bottles of Tears
18th February - 1st May (in the North Transept, free entry)
An installation by the artist Deborah Tompsett

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love. Washington Irving
Tear Bottle Installation
Tear Bottle Installation

There are many ancient traditions of 'tear bottles' ranging from their use by the ancient Greeks to references in the Bible.  Pilgrims in days of old carried tear-shaped vessels on their long journeys and the Victorians caught their tears in vessels and then waited for the tears to evaporate, symbolising an end to their mourning.  These 1000 bottles have been made on a traditional potter's wheel and each has its own distinct individuality.  The modest vessels are made from a fist sized lump of mixed clay, varying in size from a baby's fist to a large male hand - this has been chosen by the artist as the size of an individual's fist is recognised to be the same size as their heart.

Here in Chichester Cathedral, these tear bottles are placed in three particular places that tell three different stories.  100 (or so) bottles are by the Cathedral's famous Chichester Reliefs, 300 are placed in the Chapel of St Mary Magdalene, in front of the Cathedral's striking painting by Graham Sutherland, and 600 bottles are placed at the Cathedral's Shrine, where hundreds of visitors bring their prayers each week.

The exhibition is free to enter and all are welcome.

(This exhibition was due to finish on 18th April but has been extended to the 1st May due to national media coverage published on 17th April).

Tear Bottles
Tear Bottles

Click here to download the Tear Bottles Information Leaflet.

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