Consulate General of Portugal in Manchester

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Frentes de Altar em Bordado de Castelo Branco na Catedral de Manchester

Cristina Rodrigues, architect and plastic artist, developed a project based on seven textile pieces for the Manchester Cathedral derived from a partnership with the Castelo Branco City Council.

The altar fronts, which were consecrated on 17 September 2017, are the result of a creative process that demanded around 150 studies until the final approval on behalf of the authorities of the Church of England, and over a year of work by six embroiderers of the Atelier-School of Regional Embroidery of Castelo Branco.

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"The Kingdom of Heaven" , by Cristina Rodrigues.
A collection of large-scale textiles produced in Castelo Branco Embroidery. Manchester Cathedral.
Photograph © RezaKio

The artist and the Castelo Branco City Council's offer to the cathedral intends to pay homage to the secular relationship between the two countries and celebrate the two state visits of Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II to our country. In 2017, the 60-year ephemeris of the first of said visits was celebrated, an occasion where the Queen received an embroidery piece from Castelo Branco.

The artist's relation to the city of Manchester dates back to her times as a student and concluding her doctorate (Manchester School of Art), having kept here an atelier for several years. In 2014, she presented an exhibit titled Women from my country in the cathedral, which ended up inaugurating a close relationship with the people responsible for it. 

The Manchester Cathedral, with ancestral origins possibly dating back to the 9th century, and which displays the coat of arms of John of Gaunt, duke and founder of the Lancaster duchy, father of Queen Philippa of Lancaster, wife of King John I, was the target of a bombing in December 1940, having been partially destroyed.  Ever since then, the various eclesiastic responsible authorities have been developing a recovery project, from the masonry to the stained glass, the furniture, the organ and the altars.

The Portuguese offer was widely saluted by the local authorities in the event, which also counted with the presence of a fourteen-member delegation from Castelo Branco, the Ambassador of Portugal to the United Kingdom and his wife, and the Consul-General of Portugal in Manchester.

The Cathedral is planning the itineracy of the altar fronts throughout the United Kingdom, having already contacted the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which has the best collection of Castelo Branco embroideries outside Portugal. 

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