London Art@Site Michael Black Two Crutched Friars

Michael Black


Two Crutched Friars

Rangoon St, Crutched Friars
The Crutched Friars did not hobble about on crutches: they were members of the House of the Holy Cross, and the Latin for cross is crux. They held a staff with a cross and wore a cross on their habit.
The site of their London house is now occupied by one of those monster office blocks that reduces the street to a barren, windblown wilderness. The only redeeming feature is this lovely sculpture by Michael Black, created in 1984. The two figures are based on Narziss and Goldmund, the abbot and artist from Hermann Hesse's novel.
The habits are carved from the same Swedish red granite used to face the building: the faces, hands and feet are grey Bardiglio marble. One holds a staff, the other a scrip, both bronze. Pevsner calls them 'eerily static'.
Close examination of this lovely sculpture revealed the secret inscription and a key (a real, modern-day mortice key) hidden on the step below the habit of the friar on the right. We left it there, and it was still there a few months later. But isn't this sculpture just lovely? The post-modern optical illusion of the steps and the entrance, the asymmetrical bollard and the smoothness of the stone that just makes you want to stroke it. One of our favourites.