A PAINTING designed for an Upper Beeding church more than 30 years ago has finally been hung on permanent display there.
The late Margaret Nethercoat-Bryant, a renowned artist in the village, painted the large triptych for St Peter’s Church, in Church Lane, in the late 1970s or early 80s.
Margaret, who died in 2007, always intended it to be for the church, but it was only when her husband, Keith, fell ill last year that the Rev John Challis, parish priest, learned of it.
Mr Challis explained he visited Keith regularly before he died in February 2012 and was told about the painting, called Mansions of the Soul and subtitled Transience.
The couple’s children agreed it could be put in the church, on permanent loan from the family.
“It is right that it should be used, seen and enjoyed,” said Mr Challis. “I don’t think it would look out of place in Chichester Cathedral.”
The painting, which is in three parts that can be closed when needed, was put up temporarily for three months at the start of the year to see what the congregation thought.
Mr Challis said: “It has all been positive. It is enjoyed and a talking point. We find people here meditating and thinking about it.
“It grows on you. Every time you look at it, you see more and things come out to you in different ways. You can see eyes and certainly a figure.”
Having decided the painting should be placed permanently in the Lady Chapel, the church had to go through the faculty process, the Church’s equivalent of planning permission, with the Diocese of Chichester.
“Finally, after a long, long process, we are very excited that it is here,” added Mr Challis.
“We have placed it in the Lady Chapel, which should be blue, so it fits in just perfectly.
“It was designed so that it could close for certain times of the year, such as Good Friday, when we try to make the church look as barren and bare as possible.”
He suggests the painting includes the ‘all-seeing eye’ and a person but rather than interpret it himself, Mr Challis is planning to put out a book, where people can write what they think they see in the painting.