The Bishop of New York Cathedral in Harlem became very interested in
Duffy's crucifix. The following is Duffy's written response to a
request from the Bishop for an explanation of the work.
"Toxteth is the place where the Liverpool riots of 1981 began.
The horror of this social convulsion seemed all the greater to me
because the factors which fuelled it were so intractable. There was,
for example, the intolerance between Anglicans and Roman Catholics,
something I had witnessed from youth up. When I became an adult, I
easily spotted all around me a life marked by a materialistic neglect
of spirit and soul. And most recently there was the pronounced urban
decay with an attendant lack of faith and hope.
A visitor to Liverpool would readily recognise how the Anglican and
Roman Catholic cathedrals seem to face one another across the city.
However formidable these edifices may be, I remember being struck by
the seeming helplessness of the ecclesiastical authorities to do much
to mitigate the horror of the Liverpool riots. As a painter, I felt
drawn to express something that would be adequate to this social
turmoil. Why not then use the symbol of the cross, especially if the
churches had seemed helpless in the midst of the riots.
Believe me, I did not choose to use this symbol lightly. I knew that
after 2000 years the Cross remained possibly the world's most powerful
symbol, as is, for other reasons, the dollar sign. I knew that the
Cross should be used with respect, in full consciousness that Jesus
Christ was sacrificed on it. However, just because the cross is
invested with such an inheritance of profoundly important
connotations, I knew that it is all too easy for an artist to adopt it
to give meaning where the artist can find none himself. Thus, for me,
it was important to use the Cross in a way that would convince me I
had absorbed something of its message.
I went to London to visit the travelling exhibition of Cimabue's
painting of the Crucifixion - the painting had recently been restored
after the Florentine flood. After seeing the harmony, serenity and
beauty of the work, I greatly admired the artist. But I also knew that
in my own painting I would have to capture something of the way in
which Christ is crucified again for every generation. I knew that the
crucifixion of Christ was not a passive act. It was a brutal act and
it is one that shows the lengths to which individuals and groups of
individuals have gone and will go.
I therefore decided not to paint the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but
to paint a Crucifixion of Everyman. Thus the 'Victim' on my Cross is
anyone who is a victim in our society. The words in the title
'Victim', no Resurrection' are bleak, and rightly so, because my Cross
reflects an extreme hopelessness in society. On superficial reading of
my painting, one might say it offers no hope for mankind whatsoever
but this is far from the truth.
"The full title of my painting is 'Toxteth Sculpture, Victim, no
Resurrection'. The figure inside the painting isn't Christ, he was
resurrected. The figure or figures represent those people who are the
real victims and who I believe do not see there resurrection as