Category Archives: Art

Rare murals are one of Farnham’s hidden treasures

This Saturday evening there will be a chance to learn about one of Farnham’s hidden treasures – some rare and important murals from the early 20th century, painted on the walls of St Mark’s Church.

The Kitty Milroy murals are in the chancel of St Mark’s, and were painted by local woman Eleanor Catherine Wallace Milroy (‘Kitty’) between 1911 and 1920, using other local women as models. The murals blend influences from European Symbolist painting and the Arts and Crafts Movement and following a report by Rickerby and Shekede, a wall painting conservation practice which has worked with the Courtauld Institute of Art and the Getty Conservation Institute, the works are now seen as having a unique significance. Comparisons have been made with pictures in The Watts Chapel and it is known that Mary Watts visited the area.

“These paintings stand at a critical point in the stylistic and technical development of mural practice in England, and have considerable local and national importance,” said painting restorer Nick Seversway.

The murals are in need of restoration and there will be a talk on them by Mr Seversway at 7.30pm this Saturday (October 20) in St Mark’s Church, Alma Lane, Gu9 0LT. Admission is free.

Pictures by Richard Heath.

Happy apples

We celebrated Harvest and Apple Day at St Mark’s today – Sunday, October 7 – with the normal St Mark’s informality (chaos?) – apple pancakes, pressed apples to make juice, apples dipped in chocolate, Harvest hymns, Harvest donations which will be given to the Foodbank, apple art by young people, and the Bishop of Dorking presiding and preaching on Matthew 6: 25-34 ( “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”). 

Bishop Jo encouraged us to share resources, to ensure that others had enough, and to be thankful to the God who gives what we need and more. Her message was: “don’t worry – be thankful, trust God”.

There was an overwhelming sense of joy and community. Happy Harvest!

St Mark's art apple day

Apple art at St Mark’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

God above us, within us and at the bottom of the garden

A Celtic Service

God above us – trees, birds and sunshine, stars and moonlight – God above us.

God within us – hope, tears and laughter, love and wonder – God within us.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with my son about the Celtic service at St George’s I was going to be taking part in, with Wendy Edwards and Dave and Helena Walker. As a joke – I think – he asked  Is that where you paint your face blue and dance around with no clothes on?”

I said that was not what we would be doing and he seemed disappointed ! However it did make me think that other people may have similar ideas.

So to reassure everyone, on Saturday, July 14 at 5pm, 22 of us met in the garden of St. George’s for a Celtic Service. The weather and setting were just right.

Wendy led our worship beautifully with words and prayers, and told us how she found God at the bottom of her garden. Helena and Dave prepared an area for us do do various art activities, and brought a large Celtic cross they had painted.

We sang some familiar hymns and some new songs and sang The Lord’s Prayer to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.

Afterwards we all stayed to chat over refreshments of shortbread, Welsh cakes and homemade fruit bread, with tea and coffee.

It was a beautiful service. Thank you Wendy. I look forward to the next one.

Margaret Emberson

PS And we did NOT paint our faces blue and dance around with no clothes on!

 

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Reflections on a rainbow

 

Last Wednesday (July 18) I and several others from the parish, had the privilege of being part of a ‘Rainbow Service’ at St Mary’s Church in Guildford, a communion service which celebrated diversity and in particular welcomed people from the LGBTI+ community, along with family, friends and allies.

The word ‘privilege’ is often used to describe people’s feelings when they have attended an event, so often used that it has become a cliché and I thought carefully before using it, but it really did feel a privilege to be part of a warm, joyful, colourful service which not only celebrated diversity but was also ground-breaking. There have been other such services in other places but this was, I believe, the first in this part of the Diocese of Guildford. It was also packed, and not just with Anglicans, for it was an ecumenical service. I don’t know who came from which church but among those I was particularly pleased to welcome were three from the Godalming Unitarian Chapel including the minister Sheena.

The word privilege is important here for another reason too. Those who identify as straight and cisgendered have been privileged in society, and LGBTI+ people have been at best marginalised and discriminated against. More than that they have often been persecuted, attacked, forced to hide themselves. In some places they are imprisoned, killed. Though in many countries society is much more welcoming now – we have equal marriage after all, though ceremonies cannot be conducted in the Anglican Church – discrimination remains and the church is in large part responsible. There were those I knew there who had experienced direct discrimination and humiliation from both church and society, and I knew just a few of the congregation.

During the service there were references to the wounds that have been and continue to be inflicted, but there was no sense of bitterness, simply an offering of ourselves to God and a joy that God welcomes us all here, now, as we are, and loves and celebrates us. The Confession included the words: ‘Forgive us when we don’t believe such love is true or possible, when we wonder how you could love us just as we are, when we forget our intricate construction, fearfully, wonderfully made, in your image! You know our hearts – and you love us still.’

There was joy, there was wonderful music, and there was colour, not least in the ribbons that we all wore and then tied to a huge circle of wool which we all held, before placing it on the altar, in the rainbow cloth in front of the altar, in the rainbow banner which until the night before had adorned St Mark’s in Hale, in the amazing rainbow cupcakes which a lady called Liz had made, in the installation celebrating and challenging us on inclusion which Lesley Shatwell had prepared, in the rainbow collages which Dave and Helena Walker encouraged us to make.

There was also talk, lots of it, with people lingering over nibbles, wine and those cupcakes, making friends, just feeling welcome. It was, as I said, a privilege and the first, I am certain, of many such occasions.

Stella Wiseman

Thursday Morning Art

“Oh, I wish I could draw …”  I look at other people’s art, see they get so much pleasure out of doing it and I envy that.  My efforts are feeble.  Ah, but help is at hand at St Mark’s on a Thursday morning.  Dave and Helena, both brilliant artists in their own right, are very supportive of all attempts by those trying to channel their inner artist.  I found it doesn’t matter whether you are a budding Picasso or if you barely know one end of a paintbrush from the other, everyone is welcome to have a go.

I believe in Creator God, God who speaks through our creativity and sets our spirits flying free through our art.  It doesn’t matter how good you are, whether the result looks like you’d imagined it or not; it’s the process, the taking part, the giving it a go, which is important.

And it’s sociable.  There’s tea, coffee and cake and plenty of folk to chat to: St Mark’s really is the place to be on a Thursday morning from 10.00.  Come along and see for yourself.

Lesley Shatwell

Thursday Art

Calling all Detectives – mural detectives!

We urgently need information regarding the paintings at St. Marks.

These were painted by Kitty (Eleanor Catherine Wallace) Milroy, the daughter of the Vicar of Carisbrooke when the family relocated to The Oast House in Hale in the early 1900s.

Did you know that the figures in the murals were all local people from Hale? But who are they?

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Is this Percy Hook?

We have found out that ‘the third cherub from the right’ is Percy Hook.

Even this is a bit vague as it depends which way you happen to be looking as to which is right.

Hilda Mary Butler was a figure ‘dressed in blue’.

Can you remember anything that your Gran or Grandad said about the paintings or whether they were one of the figures or if they mentioned who was?

Anything at all will help us build up a picture so we can have the information when we apply for grants to stabilize the wall paintings.

Percy Hook recalled in the Farnham Herald (publ. Nov 30th 1990)

‘it was done by Miss Milroy, who lived at a big house on the corner of what they call Boxalls Hill. I remember sitting in a hut behind her house while she painted it, but not how it came about’

The paintings themselves are painted directly onto the wall so he must have been referring to her preliminary sketches and paintings not of which seem to have survived. The church paintings were painted with a modified version of the technique known as spirit fresco. It is recorded during the major restoration carried out by Evelyn Caesar in 1946, that she used Kitty Milroy’s technique employing a walnut of beeswax.

Indeed the two figures of Moon and Cloud are part of this restoration. But did you know that the small face above the window was also part of this restoration?  Evelyn used her niece for this portrait, Josephine Jones (nee Caesar).

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Apparently a Violet Common assisted Kitty with the paintings. Does anyone know if this is this true?

Unfortunately all the parish magazines from 1900-1983 are missing. If you know any that still exist before you dump them please hand them on as they provide a great insight as to what was going on and they may even mention the paintings.

These paintings are a unique part of our heritage and represent an important piece of the history of the short lived church decoration at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Century.

What can you find out?

Thanks for your help detective.

Please contact

Nick Seversway  

nick.seversway@outlook.com, 07954693191

Realms of Glory

I’m not sure how best to describe it. Words like “plague” or “ infestation” don’t seem quite appropriate, and anyway, are probably sacrilegious. “Visitation” is probably safest if I want to avoid divine retribution.angel

Basically, St Mark’s is full of angels.

It all began a couple of months ago. We had our mini arts and music festival (“Arts at St Marks”) in October. After this was cleared away, the church looked a bit bare. Lesley S then came up with the idea of filling the place with angels during Advent. Shortly after that, Alison R hit upon “Realms of Glory” as a title for the theme. I announced it for a few weeks during November and then it happened. The angels started to fly in…

The first ones to arrive were a trio from Margaret. I’d previously announced that I’d like some to be flying above us, suspended from the cross ties below the ceiling. These seemed perfect for the job, so on the Monday morning, with the ladder firmly secured in place, I draped my old climbing rope over the tie and hauled the first angel up. This produced a certain silence from Lesley and Margaret. It really didn’t look like an angel. It looked quite scary. The juxtaposition of the ladder, rope and body also looked like we’d just lynched our first victim.

Just then, one of the mothers from Surrey slings came in and said, quite accurately, that it looked like one of Harry Potter’s dementors. A certain amount of hysterical laughter followed.

As we didn’t want people to go away with nightmares, we found a more benign location, on the wall behind the keyboard, where they look suitably angelic and not at all threatening.

However, this was just the start. We had a whole load more angels arrive from Hale Beavers and then the floodgates opened. They’re everywhere. Each time I go up to the church more have arrived. They’re on windowsills, dangling from the projector screen and almost everywhere else. We’ve even got a life-size (?) one standing by the entrance to welcome visitors to the church.

The overall effect is quite remarkable. Combined with the wall hangings, the Amnesty “Candles of Hope” paintings around the chancel and the traditional Christmas decorations, the place looks vibrant and an exciting place, where things are happening. Our thanks and congratulations to everyone who has contributed. It has turned out to be an exceptional tribute to people’s creativity, sense of belonging and pride in the church.

There is much nonsense talked about the spirit of Christmas. However, in some small way I think we can see an example of it here.

Bob Shatwell