Background Shape

Clinton Chaloner

St James’s Paschal Candle Stand was carved from a yew tree by the artist Clinton Chaloner in 2014.
The stand depicts an array of lifeforms that began to appear with the Cambrian explosion 540 million years ago, which initiated a sudden increase in the amount and variety of lifeforms on earth. Scallop shells (the symbol of St James the pilgrim), ammonites and trilobites can be seen. These ancient lifeforms are encompassed by the Greek letters Alpha and Omega – a biblical reference to Christ describing himself as the divine ruler of time and eternity.
A Paschal Candle represents the light of Christ coming into the world. It is blessed and lit at dawn on Easter Day and on special occasions including baptisms.

The material for the figures was wood from a Catalpa (Indian Bean) tree which had stood for a century near the entrance to the church. During this time, having survived bombing during the Blitz, the tree had become well known and appreciated beyond those at St James’s and appeared in Time Out’s Great Trees of London.

After serving for so many years as a focal point for ceremonies and blessings, their venerable tree had sadly declined in health to the point where it had to be felled in 2011.

The St James’s community hoped that something could be made from its remains which would continue to be part of church life while at the same time commemorating their much loved tree.

Extracting the huge sections of timber from the church grounds was an immense effort in itself, requiring a large team of volunteers and some real ingenuity.

They were then transported to my mountain workshop where, over several months of planning and carving, they became the set of figures which are now a central part of the Christmas celebrations.