wall painting

Richly Decorated Apse by Sasha Ward

Central window, Christ resurrected & detail, HB&B 1888

The apse is in St Nicholas, East Grafton, a church in a scenic position on the village green. It is a Victorian church designed in the Romanesque style by Benjamin Ferrey in the 1840s, with a decorative interior scheme by Thomas Willement and stained glass by a number of different firms. The windows that interest me are the three in the apse by Heaton, Butler & Bayne, because they look absolutely great in combination with the painted walls and window reveals. The wall painting is geometric, floral ornamentation while the glass designs are unusually devoid of pattern or border. The glass is mostly white with brown paint and silverstain, some patches of red and a beautiful piece of light blue in St Margaret's palm leaf (below right). These colours link the windows back to the painting on the walls.

Left hand window, St Margaret & details, HB&B 1888

The billowing clouds make a complete contrast with the patterned walls, they give the windows a feeling that is so light and full of air although they are heavily painted. At each side is a smaller narrow opening filled with clear lozenges. These complete the semi circle of the apse wall in a very satisfying way, different styles but nothing jarring. 

Right hand window, St Nicholas & detail, HB&B 1887

In The Palms of Your Hands by Sasha Ward

Wall painting, Cathedral of Saint Benedict, Gualdo Tadino

Wall painting, Cathedral of Saint Benedict, Gualdo Tadino

It's a great thing to see a building carried in somebody's hands, particularly when you are standing in the building depicted - for example the one above the entrance doors of the cathedral in Gualdo Tadino (province of Perugia, shown above).

When I came home I searched through my picture library to find some good versions of buildings in the palms of hands. It's a theme I always look out for, I get a lot of inspiration from architecture in stained glass, the varied ways that windows are shown in stained glass windows. 

Above are depictions of four real buildings: St. Cedd holding the beautiful 7th century Chapel of St. Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex: St. Hilda of Whitby holding the Abbey in Bridget Jones' Kempe restoration at Ripon Cathedral: The Verger's window at Sheffield Cathedral by Christopher Webb: St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague, in one of the Josef Cibulka windows made for the building in the 1930s.

Of course there are also the characters who are recognisable by the fact that they are building carriers. Below, St Barbara with her tower and two versions of Solomon with the first temple in Jerusalem. The painted building in William Peckitt's 1780 York Minster window (below centre), showing the temple literally in the palm of Solomon's hand, I find particularly satisfying.

Most inspirational for me are the depictions of whole towns as entities, the boundary walls holding buildings together on a slice of landscape. We drove around to find a good viewpoint for drawing the Umbrian hill town of Spello, one that would show the shape of the town and the little enclosure at its peak. Fantastic to find a painting in the church showing the whole town so clearly, and one in the gallery showing Spello from our viewpoint changing hands.

Spello from the north in the church: from the south in a painting by Grecchi (c.1610): below, one of my drawings from the south

Spello from the north in the church: from the south in a painting by Grecchi (c.1610): below, one of my drawings from the south