Appeal launches to save murals

Christ in Glory mural by Duncan Grant in Berwick church SUS-160914-151539001
Christ in Glory mural by Duncan Grant in Berwick church SUS-160914-151539001

A £950,000 appeal has been launched to conserve paintings at Berwick Church.

The church and the Bloomsbury group of painters were celebrated at the launch of the appeal to conserve the irreplaceable paintings by renowned artists Duncan Grant, Vanessa and Quentin Bell at a National Art Fund event in London last week.

Arts Council England chair Sir Nicholas Serota said at the launch, “The remarkable decorative scheme in Berwick church is of national and even international importance. It is, critically, the only example in the country of the complete decoration of the interior of an ancient rural parish church by 20th century artists of repute.”

On the 75th anniversary of the dedication of the Bloomsbury paintings in Berwick Church, the event launched the appeal to raise £950,000 to conserve the paintings and stabilise their environment.

They were painted on war-time plasterboard panels which have deteriorated.

The paintings vibrantly cover the nave walls, chancel, arch, screen and pulpit.

They were commissioned in 1941 by Bishop Bell of Chichester, who sought to revive the church’s patronage of artists.

At the launch, the fundraising evening started with a conversation between actor, novelist, director and screenwriter Julian Fellowes and Deborah Gage, reminiscing about growing up in Sussex and with its artistic milieu.

There was also an illustrated, dramatised talk written by Reverend Mary Sitwell and Linda Hallums and based on the book, The Bloomsbury Group in Berwick Church, by the current Rector of Berwick Church Reverend Peter Blee which follows the story from the initial commission, to the dedication of the paintings and their lasting artistic and spiritual legacy.