The Other Modern: 1953 Coronation Cope by Watts & Co.

The animal we call "the other modern" is a reference to modernity which still maintains its inspiration and connections to the tradition, while also giving a certain nod to modernity in terms of its design. "Modernity" is one of those odd creatures of course, because what is "modern" changes all the time; yesterday's "modern" can be tomorrow's dated enterprise. Take for example all of the trends of the 1960's and 1970's. While at the time those innovations were considered the height of "modernity" today they are dated and stale. The whole point of "the other modern" is that it retains enough of a connection with the tradition that it can better stand the test of time for, at one and the same time, it has elements both of something very time-bound specific (the modern aspect) and another aspect which is more timeless and classic (the tradition). 

The matter of the cope produced by Watts & Co. in 1953 and designed by Keith Murray is a case in point. Looking at the beautiful blue and gold textile that forms the main body of the cope, one could be forgiven for assuming that this cope is a Catholic survival of pre-reformation days: 

Here, for example, is a genuine pre-reformation cope in the collection of Downside Abbey:

As we turn toward the front however, we see a more modernistic approach to the way in which the royal symbols of the lion and unicorn are handled, both in terms of style and also in terms of how they only suggest the orphreys.  

Certainly when one looks at this, one has a sense that they are looking at something 'modern' and yet at the same time it hasn't lost its connection to the tradition.  It is the interaction of these two poles that define what is called 'Other Modern.'  It is modernity that hasn't come at the expense of the classics and the tradition. It is modernity without the rupture. 

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