MUSIC MONDAY Aldous Huxley and the rock band CREAM Featured artist is Peter Eugene Ball




No. 6: ‘White Room’

Known for its slashing wah-wah guitar solo, pounding drums and halting drug-inspired lyrics, “White Room” remains one of Cream’s heavily trafficked songs.

Although the wah-wah pedal effect on Eric Clapton’s guitar marks it as a product of the late 1960s, “White Room” feels as contemporary as anything in the Cream catalog. The rock song is marked by an unusual sophistication in the lyrics and musical structure. It also expresses the psychedelic aesthetic in a radio-friendly serving, and audiences of the day ate it up.

Lyricist Pete Brown wrote “White Room” with bassist/singer Jack Bruce. Brown’s carefully measured poetry (doled out in four-syllable phrases) lifts this above so many trippy-nonsense lyrics of the era:

In the white room, with black curtains, near the station/
Black roof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings

The “White Room” was a new flat (apartment) inhabited by Brown, a place where “the shadows run from themselves.” Before long, Brown must confront “the station,” perhaps the London Tube, where pain awaits as a lover departs:

You said no strings could secure you at the station/
Platform ticket, restless diesels, goodbye windows

Brown said years later: “It was a miracle it worked, considering it was me writing a monologue about a new flat.”

While drugs reportedly came into play in the song’s creation, this is a fine example of a psychedelic song working within the temporal confines of a rock single. In the U.S., a 3-minute single version spent several weeks in the top 10 during the fall of 1968. The full 5-minute song provided a dramatic opening to Cream’s “Wheels of Fire” double album.

Despite Clapton’s brilliant solo (and celebrity), “White Room” also serves as evidence that vocalist Bruce was very much Cream’s front man.

“White Room” remained a can’t-miss concert staple for both Bruce and Clapton in their solo careers, although Clapton did resist playing it for many years. It was the penultimate song performed at Cream’s 2005 reunion shows.

Cream – White Room – Lyrics

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In his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? Francis Schaeffer noted:

The man who followed on from that point was English–Aldous Huxley (1894-1963). He proposed drugs as a solution. We should, he said, give healthy people drugs and they can then find truth inside their own heads. All that was left for Aldous Huxley and those who followed him was truth inside a person’s own head. With Huxley’s idea, what began with the existential philosophers – man’s individual subjectivity attempting to give order as well as meaning, in contrast to order being shaped by what is objective or external to oneself – came to its logical conclusion. Truth is in one’s own head. The ideal of objective truth was gone.

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This emphasis on hallucinogenic drugs brought with it many rock groups–for example, Cream, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Incredible String Band, Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix. Most of their work was from 1965-1958. The Beatles’Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) also fits here. This disc is a total unity, not just an isolated series of individual songs, and for a time it became the rallying cry for young people throughout the world. As a whole, this music was the vehicle to carry the drug culture and the mentality which went with it across frontiers which were almost impassible by other means of communication.

Here is a good review of the episode 016 HSWTL The Age of Non-Reason of HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE?, December 23, 2007:

Together with the advent of the “drug Age” was the increased interest in the West in  the religious experience of Hinduism and Buddhism. Schaeffer tells us that: “This grasping for a nonrational meaning to life and values is the central reason that these Eastern religions are so popular in the West today.”  Drugs and Eastern religions came like a flood into the Western world.  They became the way that people chose to find meaning and values in life.  By themselves or together, drugs and Eastern religion became the way that people searched inside themselves for ultimate truth.

Along with drugs and Eastern religions there has been a remarkable increase “of the occult appearing as an upper-story hope.”  As modern man searches for answers it “many moderns would rather have demons than be left with the idea that everything in the universe is only one big machine.”  For many people having the “occult in the upper story of nonreason in the hope of having meaning” is better than leaving the upper story of nonreason empty. For them horror or the macabre are more acceptable than the idea that they are just a machine.

Francis Schaeffer has correctly argued:

The universe was created by an infinite personal God and He brought it into existence by spoken word and made man in His own image. When man tries to reduce [philosophically in a materialistic point of view] himself to less than this [less than being made in the image of God] he will always fail and he will always be willing to make these impossible leaps into the area of nonreason even though they don’t give an answer simply because that isn’t what he is. He himself testifies that this infinite personal God, the God of the Old and New Testament is there. 

Instead of making a leap into the area of nonreason the better choice would be to investigate the claims that the Bible is a historically accurate book and that God created the universe and reached out to humankind with the Bible. Below is a piece of that evidence given by Francis Schaeffer concerning the accuracy of the Bible.



In the previous chapter we saw that the Bible gives us the explanation for the existence of the universe and its form and for the mannishness of man. Or, to reverse this, we came to see that the universe and its form and the mannishness of man are a testimony to the truth of the Bible. In this chapter we will consider a third testimony: the Bible’s openness to verification by historical study.

Christianity involves history. To say only that is already to have said something remarkable, because it separates the Judeo-Christian world-view from almost all other religious thought. It is rooted in history.

The Bible tells us how God communicated with man in history. For example, God revealed Himself to Abraham at a point in time and at a particular geographical place. He did likewise with Moses, David, Isaiah, Daniel and so on. The implications of this are extremely important to us. Because the truth God communicated in the Bible is so tied up with the flow of human events, it is possible by historical study to confirm some of the historical details.

It is remarkable that this possibility exists. Compare the information we have from other continents of that period. We know comparatively little about what happened in Africa or South America or China or Russia or even Europe. We see beautiful remains of temples and burial places, cult figures, utensils, and so forth, but there is not much actual “history” that can be reconstructed, at least not much when compared to that which is possible in the Middle East.

When we look at the material which has been discovered from the Nile to the Euphrates that derives from the 2500-year span before Christ, we are in a completely different situation from that in regard to South America or Asia. The kings of Egypt and Assyria built thousands of monuments commemorating their victories and recounting their different exploits. Whole libraries have been discovered from places like Nuzu and Mari and most recently at Elba, which give hundreds of thousands of texts relating to the historical details of their time. It is within this geographical area that the Bible is set. So it is possible to find material which bears upon what the Bible tells us.

The Bible purports to give us information on history. Is the history accurate? The more we understand about the Middle East between 2500 B.C. and A.D. 100, the more confident we can be that the information in the Bible is reliable, even when it speaks about the simple things of time and place.

The site of the biblical city called Lachish is about thirty miles southwest of Jerusalem. This city is referred to on a number of occasions in the Old Testament. Imagine a busy city with high walls surrounding it, and a gate in front that is the only entrance to the city. We know so much about Lachish from archaeological studies that a reconstruction of the whole city has been made in detail. This can be seen at the British Museum in the Lachish Room in the Assyrian section.

There is also a picture made by artists in the eighth century before Christ, the Lachish Relief, which was discovered in the city of Nineveh in the ancient Assyria. In this picture we can see the Jewish inhabitants of Lachish surrendering to Sennacherib, the king of Assyria. The details in the picture and the Assyrian writing on it give the Assyrian side of what the Bible tells us in Second Kings:

2 Kings 18:13-16

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

13 Now in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them. 14 Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong. Withdraw from me; whatever you impose on me I will bear.” So the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver which was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the king’s house. 16 At that time Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the doorposts which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.


We should notice two things about this. First, this is a real-life situation–a real siege of a real city with real people on both sides of the war–and it happened at a particular date in history, near the turn of the eighth century B.C. Second, the two accounts of this incident in 701 B.C. (the account from the Bible and the Assyrian account from Nineveh) do not contradict, but rather confirm each other. The history of Lachish itself is not so important for us, but some of its smaller historical details.

Tel Lachish –

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Featured artist today is Peter Eugene Ball

Contemporary Christian Art – The Rt Revd Lord Harries of Pentregarth

Published on Apr 10, 2012

Contrary to much opinion, the current scene of faith-related art is very much alive. There are new commissions for churches and cathedrals, a number of artists pursue their work on the basis of a deeply convinced faith, and other artists often resonate with traditional Christian themes, albeit in a highly untraditional way. The challenge for the artist, stated in the introduction to the course of lectures above, is still very much there: how to retain artistic integrity whilst doing justice to received themes.

This lecture is part of Lord Harries’ series on ‘Christian Faith and Modern Art’. The last century has seen changes in artistic style that have been both rapid and radical. This has presented a particular problem to artists who have wished to express Christian themes.

The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website:…

Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website.


Pièta, Winchester Cathedral, 2011

Peter Ball was born and brought up in Coventry and was much influenced by teachers at his local school. He trained at Coventry School of Art and has worked full time as a sculptor from 1968. His secular work has often been described as witty, and he usually begins there, as in his religious commissions, with a piece of driftwood. He must be the most commissioned of all contemporary artists, with over 60 commissions from churches or cathedrals. This popularity is no doubt related to that fact that he has said that a work in a church setting. “Has to be a devotional object not an architectural set piece”

Christus from the Flames, Cotgrave, 1998

The first word that comes to mind on seeing one of these religious commissions is “Romanesque”. Pamela Tudor Craig, after describing the drift wood and copper plate materials of his work says “So his Christus has, in the nature of its composition the battle-scarred endurance of a time-worn Romanesque Christus” and continues.

The large eyed narrow bearded heads of Romanesque art come naturally to Peter Ball. He is not the heir of the comely Gothic but of the tormented prophets of Souillac, or even further back, of Celtic spirit figures. His way of seeing is most suited, perhaps, to commissions for the Hanging Rood, or for a gaunt Pietà, but there is a tenderness in his treatment of

Biography (video)

Peter Eugene Ball was born in Coventry, Warwickshire on 19 March 1943.  He was educated at a local boys’ school and from 1957 to 1962 attended Coventry College of Art.

The powerful visual images of paintings, sculptures and architecture made a deep impression on the sculptor as a child.  Enlightened history teachers brought their subject alive for him and one of his earliest memories is of a visit to Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire at the age of 11, which, by coincidence, many years later, became the first cathedral to commission a major work by him.  He also acquired much first hand knowledge whilst accompanying Geoffrey Saunders, an art history tutor, on numerous trips around the British Isles during the 1960s and together they made a photographic survey of village Romanesque carvings and prehistoric monuments throughout England, Scotland and Wales.  From this Peter developed a life-long passion for Celtic and Romanesque carvings, both religious and secular.

He joined the Marjorie Parr Gallery, King’s Road, Chelsea in 1961 where he had his first one-man exhibition in 1967.  During this time Peter took on a factory job to supplement his income but in 1968 decided to make sculpture his full-time occupation.

In 1974 he sold his first religious piece to a Monsignor at Westminster Cathedral and in 1975 an exhibition of his sculptures took place at Southwark Cathedral in London.  Solo exhibitions at the Gilbert-Parr Gallery were supplemented by major showings every year at the Gallery’s stand at the International Art Fair in Basel.   The next few years were very productive with sculpture being shown at gallery exhibitions in London, Holland and Switzerland, and at international art fairs in Basel, Dϋsseldorf, New York and Chicago.  He also designed and made sculpture, masks and armour for ‘War Music’, Christopher Logue’s adaptation of Homer’s ‘Iliad’, for the Prospect Theatre at the Old Vic, London in 1977.  Then in 1978 Peter obtained his first church commission: a memorial crucifix at Preston-on-Stour, Warwickshire.

1982 brought a number of changes to the artist’s life.   The Gilbert-Parr Gallery in London closed and thereafter his exhibitions took place at the Galerie Gilbert in Remetschwiel, South Germany and at the Basel Art Fair, the Alwin Gallery on Grafton Street, London and the McMurtrey Gallery in Houston, Texas.  He was also producing paintings, drawings, etchings and painted ceramics during this period.  In 1986 he was commissioned to make a crucifix and altar pieces for Birmingham Cathedral and in 1987 a large Christus Rex for the nave of Southwell Minster.

Peter’s reputation for his religious work began to spread and over the next few years, as well as exhibiting his secular work, he made various pieces for churches, including a Virgin and Child for Southwark Cathedral and a Crucifix and Pieta for Winchester Cathedral.  In 1993 his work was included in the exhibition ‘Images of Christ : Religious Iconography in Twentieth Century British Art’ in Northampton and St Paul’s Cathedral, London. In the same year, he held a solo exhibition in Winchester Cathedral for its 900th anniversary.

‘A Kind of Madness’, an account of the secular work of Peter Eugene Ball by Inga Gilbert, was also published in 1993 and throughout the nineties he continued to exhibit his work in various galleries and, in particular, enjoyed great success at the Galerie Husstege in S’Hertogenbosch, Holland.  During this period he accepted various religious commissions and in 1999 was given a solo exhibition at Southwell Minster and another at Ely Cathedral the following year.  ‘Icons of the Invisible God’, an analysis of a selected collection of his religious sculptures by Elaine Kazimierczuk, was also published at this time.

The new millennium heralded a regular stream of religious commissions, including two pieces for Romsey Abbey and a Christus Rex and Welcoming Christ for the newly refurbished church of St Barnabas in Erdington.  He continued to hold exhibitions, often in cathedral settings such as Lichfield, Salisbury and Chichester, where he exhibited a mix of both religious and secular work.  In 2010 he was commissioned to make a Mother and Child for St Michael’s Church at Winchester College and went on to produce several other pieces for the school, including a large Crucifix for the main chapel.  In 2013 he was invited to hold a major exhibition of his work there which proved to be a great success.

Peter now lives in Newark in Nottinghamshire with his wife, Jane Warner, and continues to work from his studio at home.  He currently has more than seventy religious sculptures in churches and cathedrals throughout England and Wales and his secular work can be seen at various galleries and private exhibitions.   He has recently completed a major work for Merton College, Oxford: a Madonna and Child, and he is currently working towards his next exhibition which will take place in Oxford Cathedral, Christ Church College, Oxford next year.    He laughs a lot and curses when things go wrong.  His sculpture continues to be idiosyncratic and uncompromising, defying the changing fashions of the art world and remaining true to the spirit of the man.

Peter Eugene Ball – Artist & Sculptor


Virgin and Child

Crucifix, Winchester Cathedral, 1990

Christus Rex, Southwell Minster, 1987

Hope, St Martha the housewife, Broxtow, Nottingham, 1997

Peter Eugene Ball below:

Peter Eugene Ball’s art below:

Peter Eugene Ball

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Peter Eugene Ball
Born 19 March 1943 (age 70)
Coventry, England
Nationality British
Field Sculptor
Works Christus Rex (Southwell Minster), Pietà (Winchester Cathedral), Virgin and Child (Southwark Cathedral)

Peter Eugene Ball (19 March 1943) is an English sculptor. He is best known for his religious work which can be seen in churches and cathedrals throughout Britain. He also produces secular sculpture using predominantly driftwood and found objects.



Born on 19 March 1943 in Coventry, Warwickshire, Peter Eugene Ball attended Coventry College of Art from 1957 until 1962 where he obtained the National Diploma of Design. By 1963 his sculptures were already included in mixed exhibitions in the Midlands and at the Marjorie Parr Gallery, London, where he had his first one-man exhibition in 1967. However, it wasn’t until 1968 that making sculpture became his full-time occupation, and since that time he has devoted himself to producing both religious work for churches and cathedrals throughout the country and exhibiting and selling his secular work in galleries across Europe and in America.

Religious commissions

Sculpture Location Year
Christus Victor Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul, Oadby, Leicestershire 1992
Saint John the Baptist Parish Church of St John the Baptist, Baginton, Warwickshire 1992
High Altar Crucifix Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin and St Catherine, Nottingham 1992
Crucifix Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin and St Catherine, Nottingham 1992
Pietà The Cathedral and Parish Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Southwell Minster), Nottinghamshire 1993
Crib St Peter’s Church, London (Eaton Square) 1994
Crib Christchurch, London (Chelsea) 1994
Saints and Bishops Portsmouth Cathedral 1994
Christus Monmouth School Chapel 1995
Altar Table and Saint Winchester Cathedral 1996
Crucifixion St Andrew’s Church, Chilcomb, Hampshire 1996
Christus Rex The Cathedral and Parish Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Southwell Minster), Nottinghamshire 1997
Ecce Homo The Cathedral and Parish Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Southwell Minster), Nottinghamshire 1997
Hope Hope Centre, Church of St Martha the Housewife, Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire 1997
Christus Rex St Michael’s Church, Basingstoke, Hampshire 1997
Madonna and Child Holy Trinity Church, Blythburgh, Suffolk 1997
Madonna and Child St Swithun’s School Chapel, Winchester 1998
Christ Rowner, Hampshire 1999
Madonna and Child St Mary’s, Chesterfield 1999
Christus & Mother & Child Chelmsford Cathedral 2000
Mother and Child Clifton Brighouse 2000
Christ St Mary’s, Silchester 2001
Christus St Alban’s, Romford 2001
Christ Lichfield Cathedral 2002
John the Baptist St John’s, Penistone 2002
Virgin of the Sea St Andrew’s, Deal 2002
Christus Ely St Francis, Ely, Cardiff 2003
Christus St Mary’s, Gomersal, York 2004
Christus St Tielo’s, Whitchurch, Cardiff 2004
font St Tielo’s, Whitchurch, Cardiff 2004
St Nicholas Romsey Abbey, Romsey, Hampshire 2005
Virgin and Child St Giles’, Nottingham 2005
Small Crucifix Derby Cathedral 2005
St Andrew St Andrew’s, Wissett 2006
Christus St Bede’s, Basingstoke 2006
Small Christus Wolvesey Palace, Winchester 2006


  • A Kind of Madness (The Sculptures of Peter Eugene Ball), Inga Gilbert
  • Icons of The Invisible God (Selected Sculptures of Peter Eugene Ball), foreword by Pamela Tudor-Craig, introduction by Richard Davey

External links

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