10 : Apse painting today
The Apse painting is now about 95 years old. The old black-and-white photos (on the previous page) give some idea of how vivid and colourful it would have appeared when new. Now it is dirty, having been exposed to dust and incense throughout that period, and it suffered some damage in an arson attack on the high altar in 1962. The paint has faded badly in some parts, and has peeled away from the canvas. The canvas, which was stuck to the wall with white lead, is coming away from the wall. Furthermore, the five Apse windows were never fitted with a lead-base drip tray, to direct condensation to the outside. As a consequence, condensation has been dripping down the walls and staining the painting.
The St Barnabas Apse Painting project seeks to restore this marvellous and important painting for future generations to enjoy, and to repair the windows to prevent future damage. This is a major project, since the work on the windows may cost approximately £40,000, in addition to the cost of restoring the painting, but is fully justified by the inherent quality of this major work of art. We are confident that we can achieve this over the next few years.
Here are some recent photographs of the painting. Its title is “the Three Hierarchies of Angels praising and adoring the Holy Trinity”. The centre panel shows symbols of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The upper choir has Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones and Archangels Uriel and Raphael. The central choir has Kings, Judges and Warriors. The lower choir has Princes, Messengers and Musicians. Some of these details are rather difficult to identify !
This series of photos were taken by John Salmon in 2005.