Gargoyles and Grotesques
Glowering and grimacing from the walls of churches and other buildings, gargoyles and grotesques represent an often trivialised aspect of medieval art in which nightmarish beasts mingle with seemingly comical figures. Drawing upon ancient characteristics of architectural decoration, these carvings sit at the roofline, the gargoyle throwing rainwater clear of the building and the grotesque performing a purely decorative function. Alex Woodcock here tells the story of monsters, mermaids and mouth-pullers that to this day provoke much curiosity and various interpretations among church visitors. He traces their history and analyses their artistic context, from their Romanesque beginnings through to their heyday in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, their revival in Victorian times and the tradition of production and conservation that continues today.