#118. 15 May 2017. Rabbit and star finial, Glasgow University Chapel.

#118 15 May 2017 Rabbit and star small

This carving is at the end of a pew in Glasgow University’s Chapel, and shows a figure seated on a chair of stars, protecting a huge bunny rabbit washing its face. The symbolism seems quite unusual for a religious context: both transcendent and earthy, and seriously cute.

The chaplain Stuart Macquarrie came over to chat when he saw me drawing and said there were quite a few other animals on finials including a monkey. (In fact, I read, it’s a pipe-smoking monkey, and there are quite a number of them. A satirical swipe at high-falutin’ academics, maybe?)

The chapel dates from 1929,  and this figure has an art nouveau style that reminds me of Mackintosh and the Spook School. Stuart thought they were by Italian sculptors.  Wikipedia reveals the design of stall and carvings are by Scottish sculptor Archibald Dawson, of Glasgow School of Art, and Italian woodcarvers worked for him.

If anybody knows more about the symbolism of this, please comment, though I suspect it might only make sense in the context of the complete group, which I didn’t have time to explore in my limited lunch-hour.


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