Why visit an art gallery when you can visit a cathedral instead? Jonathan Jones takes a tour of our forgotten masterpieces
Glorious cloisters … Gloucester Cathedral. Photograph: David Mansell
There's a sculpture in Gloucester Cathedral of a youth falling through the air with his arms outstretched, as if he's trying to fly. A man with a curling beard reaches out, in a futile attempt to catch him. The sculpture is known as the Mason's Bracket, because the man wears the toolbelt of a mason. It's an odd little monument that juts out from the wall, with the falling boy carved, cubist style, into its underside. Stand beneath it and look up, and the boy seems to be falling from that great vaulted ceiling high above.
Gloucester was my final stop on a journey around Britain's cathedrals to experience their artistic marvels. For a second, standing under that boy, all the glories of the cathedral, its ornate patterns and its mighty walls of honey-tinted stone, faded away – and I was left with the image of a medieval building site, and a craftsman seeing his favourite pupil slip and fall to his death. For the Mason's Bracket is a memorial by the cathedral's builders to one of their own. What a unique piece of sculpture, I thought. Why had I never heard of it? The Mason's Bracket has all the makings of an iconic work. People just need to know it exists.
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