Self-taught East Lancs artist recreates medieval painting on canvas

Self-taught East Lancs artist recreates medieval painting on canvas

Michael Kirkman puts the finishing touches to his commission recreating on canvas the ‘St Christopher and the Christ Child’ wall painting

St Saeran’s Church

First published in News

A MEDIEVAL wall painting has been preserved for the future on canvas with the help of a Darwen artist.

Self-taught artist Michael Kirkman, 50, was commissioned in 2012 to recreate the famous ‘St Christopher and the Christ Child’ painting, at St Saeran’s Church, in Llanysys, Denbighshire, after it fell into a poor state.

Dad-of-one and granddad-of-two Michael first began work on the piece seven months ago after extensively researching the painting and medieval art.

The 25ft by 25ft 15th century wall painting of St Christopher in the Welsh church was rediscovered under plaster in 1967 after being covered up during the reformation.

In the painting, which dates to the Wars of the Roses, the saint, according to legend a giant who served as a ferryman, is shown carrying the infant Christ across a river, with a flowering staff in his hand, and a shoal of fish round his feet.

Since being rediscovered, the painting has undergone years of restoration and stabilisation, and has now been recreated on canvas by Michael.

The new painting is set to be unveiled at St Asaph’s Cathedral, in Denbighshire, on Sunday, May 18, ahead of a tour of the surrounding churches, before being displayed in St Saeran’s Church.

Michael, who lives in Buff Street, said: “I had never done anything like this before when I was approached by the Rev Philip Chew who looks after the church.

“It has been a very hard challenge, and I’ve spent many sleepless nights thinking about it, or staying up all night in my studio and hardly making a single impression on the canvas.

“I’ve never had a lesson in my life and it has been a big ask, but I’ve enjoyed it throughout.

“I’ve been painting for 25 years, but have never done anything like this before, but I will now start actively looking for projects like this.

“I really enjoyed learning about the original painting.

“I’m a bit nervous about the unveiling, but I’m proud of what I have achieved, and I hope it will be met with approval.”

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