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CSVA Students Revive Thomas Becket on a Huge Scale

Staff and students from our Canterbury School of Visual Arts (CSVA) are working hard to kick Canterbury Festival off with a bang, building a giant Thomas Becket sculpture for the event’s first spectacle this year. 

The moving sculpture will take part in the Medieval Pageant proceeding through the city centre on Saturday, 16 October. The procession will begin at 11am from Westgate Towers and finish in the Buttermarket at approximately 11.40am. 

Staff and students have toiled away since summer in order to get the sculpture completed and safely portable in time for the grand reveal. 

Our Head of Visual Arts, Ben Kidger, praised the efforts of the group and said: “They’ve been phenomenal! Working with the professional artists in our staff body, the students have really got stuck in and engaged well with the Giants project."

It’s a great opportunity for them to see something they’ve had a hand in making out on public display, and that they’ve had fun in producing.” 

About 40 students are taking part in completing the super-sized saint, which was sculpted by CSVA Lecturers, Lindsay and Clive Soord, with the help of Fashion and Textiles Practitioner, Gemma Vincent, who worked on the garment. 

Lisa Carlson, CEO of Canterbury BID, said: “This year marks a very special anniversary for Canterbury, and we are delighted that our Medieval Pageant can play a part in this."

“It has been fantastic to see so many young students getting involved with the creation of our new Thomas Becket giant and want to thank all the teachers who have inspired these young designers."

“We are delighted to be working with the talented sculptors and textile designers at Canterbury School of Visual Art, Canterbury College, again this year."

“This will be the third giant they have created for us – and we can’t wait to see Henry II and Queen Eleanor joined by Saint Thomas on the 16 October.” 

The sculpture is the culmination of the 'Design a Giant' project, a Canterbury Business Improvement District (BID) initiative which saw the Canterbury School of Visual Arts select a winning design from hundreds of entries. 

Ben Kidger noted: “In previous years, CSVA has invited primary schools to attend summer schools on campus to help make the giants, however due to the pandemic we’ve had to do it differently. 

“The ‘design a giant’ competition was a great way of keeping kids involved in the project and is a mark of the BID team’s excellence in engaging the wider community in a virtual and remote way.” 

Of the 349 entries received from local schoolchildren, two were chosen to help create the final design. 

Visual Arts Programme Director, Lindsay Soord, said: “We would like to congratulate all the children for their hard work and enthusiasm. The children clearly engaged with the competition and it was very hard to choose a winner."

“We were really impressed with the design from Roy Joksas, and want to include the bible and sceptre for the Giant. We also loved the joyful use of yellow in the design by Melissa Ferreira and will use it as the colour for the fabric of the Giants gown and Mitre.” 

The pageant will be just one of a number of events taking place on October 16, with the medieval family trail running until 5pm.  

Craft activities, history talks, archaeological digs and musical performances will take place throughout the day at landmarks including Canterbury Cathedral, The Beaney and Westgate Gardens. 

For more information about the Canterbury School of Visual Arts, visit our Art and Design Pathway Page.