THE 75th anniversary of the Special Air Service — the SAS — is to be marked with what has been described as “a major new, internationally important artwork” at the regiment’s home cathedral in Hereford.
The nine-metre-high memorial Ascension, by the artist John Maine, will combine a stained-glass window featuring 3000 different-coloured pieces of glass, and a three-by-two-metre sculpture made from three tonnes of golden sandstone from Clashach Quarry, near Elgin, in Scotland; black Tournai marble from Belgium; and blue granite from Brazil. The motto of the SAS — Who Dares Wins — and its regimental badge will be engraved into the stonework.
“Ascension will be one of the most important pieces of new cathedral art in the world,” the Dean of Hereford, the Very Revd Michael Tavinor, said. “Its bold colours and inspirational message will be a breathtaking addition to our historic cathedral, and will mark the unique link between Hereford and the SAS.
“We hope that Ascension will become a focal point for worship, thanksgiving, and homecomings, as well as providing an awe-inspiring space for contemplation and prayer for all visitors to the cathedral.”
Mr Maine took his inspiration from the cathedral’s nave. “Light streams in from the south-facing window, and the wall below is cast into darkness by contrast,” he said. “The physical challenge was to create unity between these diverse elements.”
He said that the memorial would “create a place of stillness in the cathedral, where soldiers and their families could pause and contemplate”.
The project has been commissioned and funded by the SAS Regimental Association, which is inviting members of the public to contribute towards the £1-million cost.
“The heritage of our regiment has strong ties with the people of Hereford, and Ascension is for the entire SAS family,” the regimental association’s president, Colonel Rupert Prichard, said. “It is also our hope that it will become an important global place of pilgrimage. The stillness of the stunning stonework, and the bold blues and yellows of the stained glass, which rise from chaos to calm, create a truly spectacular and deeply moving tribute to the SAS and all that the regiment represents.”
Ascension is due to be completed in April 2017.