Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You have got to see this...

....at Goring-by-sea in Sussex there is a complete, hand-painted, magnificent Sistine Chapel ceiling.

It is in a completely ordinary Catholic church in this unremarkable small seaside community on the coast, between the South Downs and the English Channel.

It is awesome! Read about it here.

I met the artist, Gary Bevan, who took five years to paint the ceiling, having put up scaffolding in the church, obtained the paints, and gone into dedicated detail to ensure that what he was painting was exactly, in every tiny way, the same as on the ceiling of the chapel in Rome. As he finished the work, he realised that the dimensions of the ceiling here in Sussex were exactly those of the famous Roman one. You walk into the church, which adjoins an old Sussex barn which is now used as the church hall, and you gasp. There it is. In brilliant colours, just as Michaelangelo painted it, the magnificent piece of art that has drawn people to God for centuries.
It's about four minutes' walk from Goring-by-sea station, on the Worthing line.
I was in Goring to give a talk to the parish on "Celebrating traditional feasts and seasons". It was a happy gathering in the little warm oak-beamed Sussex flint barn, with a good crowd, and tea and lovely cakes to finish things...and then afterwards the Bevan girls took me to the sea...all in the wide breezy evening, with the waves crashing on to the shore, and the breakwaters, and the memories of happy childhood on just this very stretch of Sussex coast, and the Downs behind us, and those seaside-houses with green tiled roofs, and the sun setting.


JoannaB said...

We came across Gary's shop in Arundel when we were having a family holiday at Butlins. He does some amazing 'frescos' and icons.

Anonymous said...

Oh Joanna..the scene is wonderful..wish I was there!

Maureen said...

Holy cow. For years, I've been joking about how, someday, all those deadly white walls and ceilings (in churches where that doesn't look very nice) will be fresco'd.

But now I have seen someone making a beginning. I feel like Simeon. :)

The only thing that puzzles me: if the painting was going onto panels anyway, wouldn't it be more efficient to paint the panels down on the ground and install them later? (Of course, if the body position was chosen so as to stick closer to Michelangelo, I can understand it. But other parishes who might want a painted ceiling might do better to go with painting on the ground.)

Mags said...

Hi Joanna.
We did have relatives living in Goring-by-sea until quite recently, so we have had the privilege of visiting the Church you mention. The paintings are just awesome.

Anonymous said...


I hope they let him deal with the walls and pick a suitable altar next. Really that ceiling is far too brilliant to be placed alongside the banal. Top marks to Gary.