The Testament Sculptures at Exeter Cathedral

My father, Ken Carter the sculptor was commissioned in 1969 to make 15 sculptures to be placed into the niches in the Chapter House at Exeter Cathedral.   Called the Testament Sculptures, he chose the great theme of creation and the figures depict some stages of creation in the Old and the New Testament.

He modelled the sculptures in clay and cold cast them in Aluminium Resin fibreglass in the years up to 1974. I remember him working on them and during the casting, we children often helped by laminating the fibreglass sheets into the backs of the sculptures.

On a recent visit to the UK I paid a visit to the Chapter House and got a few photos.


    Exeter Cathedral Chapter House


  ‘Darkness’… –  In the beginning.


    ‘Water and Earth’


   ‘Light’  –  The Sun and Moon


  ‘The Annunciation’










11 thoughts on “The Testament Sculptures at Exeter Cathedral

  1. Hello Matthew…

    I very much doubt you will remember me…but probably will remember my late ex husband Arthur Goodwin who was a great friend and colleague of your father (and mother)

    I now live in Burgundy in France, but last year when I had a 40 year retrospective exhibition of my work at the RAMM…I visited the Chapter House to see your father’s work…how strong it seemed…and as vibrant as ever…wonderful!

    I did know your brother Sibi…Sebastian a little and would love to get in touch if he would like me to…

    I have many warm memories of visiting your home in Lympstone and your parents sharing many a happy meal with us in Exeter…

    My elder son Rama lives in New Zealand now … I imagine you love the life there as much as he does…

    Warm wishes to you

  2. Hello Matthew, I am just sitting here in Lympstone on a stormy winter afternoon and doing a bit of research on my iPad. It is good to view the Testament Sculptures through your eyes. How pleased your parents would have been to know about your own interesting, clever work.

    I have great memories of you and, indeed, all your family and derive great pleasure from the “Carter Art”on display in my home.

  3. I went last night to The Chapter House to see the Riddler in Residence it was a wonderfully magical evening made even more so by you’re father’s sculptures. I wanted to know more about the sculptures and it was good to find your page. Thank you! Gaye Ilston

  4. Greetings form Canada Matthew,
    I have been introduced to your father’s work through a genealogy search which has taken me to relatives at Tiverton Castle. I had occasion to read a book about the castle and was taken back by your father’s commissioned piece of the Dragonfly placed above the altar in the Chapel of St. Francis.
    I have spoken to the present owner’s who were relatives to mine. They say the piece is in storage, as the Chapel space has been renovated. I wonder if there is any paperwork, notes regarding this piece. I would love to know more it, the thinking in the process & symbolisms of it’s creation. I know it is a shot in the dark. I am hoping to be able to visit England later in 2023 and would look forward to visiting these sculptures at Exeter as well.
    Thank you.

  5. Years ago I gave an art history talk in the Chapter House, and never got the sculptures out of my head. So good to learn about them here. Thanks for sharing.

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