The Anglepoise Lamp,
Designed by George Carwardine (1887-1947),
Enamelled metal,
Designed in 1932
© Photo courtesy of Heals

The Anglepoise Lamp,
Designed by George Carwardine (1887-1947),
Enamelled metal,
Designed in 1932
© Photo courtesy of Heals

Gospel of 5 February 2023

Your light must shine in the sight of men

Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.

‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’

Reflection on the Desktop Lamp

I am sure you are all familiar with this desktop lamp, called the Anglepoise. It was designed by the automotive engineer George Carwardine in 1932. Its innovation at the time was that the lamp had the ability (with a new type of spring and lever mechanism) to remain in position after being moved in every conceivable direction. Our illustration shows the original design drawing, plus the released version of 1932, and then a more contemporary version. The key to this lamp is its four springs. Carwardine struck up a fruitful partnership with world-renowned spring makers Herbert Terry & Sons. Together they developed a task lamp with perfect balance that could move light in all directions. The small element of the perfectly tensioned springs made all the difference.

All of us are confronted with works of art on a daily basis: we read books, listen to music, watch television, look at posters on the streets, advertising in magazines, flower arrangements at Church, etc. Art does not include just ‘high art’ (painting, sculpture, poetry, music) but also the more popular forms of art, such as the design of this lamp here. One of the beautiful aspects of our Church is that she embraces all forms of art, from ‘high art’ to some small tacky plastic religious souvenirs that get sold. Whatever can help us to pray and draw us closer to God, we embrace it.

Jesus' words in today’s gospel ‘No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house’, can be taken fairly literally and we can imagine that putting this lamp under a table, bed or whatever would be a waste. Yes, the good design of our desktop lamp makes it an attractive object to look at, but more importantly, the light it shines illuminates everything it points at. Whatever lies on the desk is now clearly readable...

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