A blind man stands before the Porto’s Chapel of Souls unaware of its spectacular façade, one of the most striking examples of blue azulejo tilework in Portugal.
The tiles of the 18th-century church depict The Martyrdom of St. Catherine on a spiked wheel and St. Francis preaching to Pope Honorious III. Francis wanted to surprise the Pope with a well-prepared sermon; however, he lost the thread of what he was saying and had to improvise. His address captivated everyone and convinced them that the spirit of God spoke through him.
Whilst living in Portugal, Edward Hopley was drawn to visit the site, “It was at the top of my list of must-sees” says the photographer. “The instant I saw a blind man approaching the church I couldn’t help but be reminded of the blind prophet Tiresias in the Sophocles' Greek tragedy, Oedipus Rex."
In Sophocles’ tragedy, Oedipus asks the blind prophet, Tiresias, for help finding his father's murderer. When Tiresias reveals that he is in fact the murderer, Oedipus mocks his lack of vision. Tiresias then accuses Oedipus of being blind to the truth in front of him. Hopley saw an interesting parallel between the blind man entering the Porto church and the ill-fated saints – St Catherine and St Francis – depicted on its façade. "The blind man about to enter the church is oblivious to the elaborate façade yet paradoxically he might 'see' better than the sighted."
A smaller version of this work has been exhibited in London at Quaglino’s and the Photo Art Fair. A tiled version of the image was exhibited at Anchorage House and at the London Art Fair.
Another of Edward's photographs is included in The Spring Auction and can be seen here.
Edward Hopley studied photography at Bournemouth, the State University of New York and Manchester Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Art and Design. Edward is a winner of both the Gold and Bronze Medals at Royal Photographic Society International Print Awards and was a Finalist at FMoPA International Photography Competition.
Edward's avidly collected photographs have been featured in publications around the globe. His work has also been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions including: Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles and London’s inaugural Photo Art Fair 2013 curated by Susie Babchick and renowned collector Gert Elfering.