The 'Big Paint' in St. Andrew's Church, Ombersley on Saturday 11th March

Ombersley Bells

'From the very young to the elderly . what could have brought such a variety of age-groups together in a common cause in the Narthex of our church on this special occasion? Painting, of course! Well, we've all done it at some time in our lives, most likely when we were at school. Most of us haven't painted since then except when using emulsion on our walls; others, a minority I realised, had continued to develop their talent at it. So there we were, all 64 of us, sustained with delicious refreshments, and with the widest range of painting abilities imaginable, concentrating on one small section of a master-piece in order to enlarge it three-fold. What could this master-piece be? Who was he / she, this portrait of someone in his / her fine regalia with gold brocade and bejewelled on garments of a deep reddish 'tudor' hue? Quite a few of us had an inkling of who he might be, one of our former monarchs maybe, a once athletic young man who'd become rather stout in middle age.

When we arrived in the Narthex of St. Andrew's there was Evelyn Ellis, the instigator of this wonderful 'Big Paint' idea, waiting to greet and apportion us with a small 3 x 4 cm piece from the whole picture for us to attempt to enlarge it. It was Evelyn who, as we entered, gauged how competent we might be, depending on how confident we looked and whether we had brought any paints & brushes with us . what a bad move that was! Some of us were given black edging squares . oh yes! ; others, sections of the ornate costume . oh dear! ; yet others, bits of the face or hands . oops! ; someone unknowingly even had a section with a cod-piece in it! Those of us who thought we might finish our section quite quickly were sadly mistaken when, two hours later, we were still beavering away trying to get the detail, colours and proportions right. The concentration, in between the quips about when we'd last held brushes as toddlers, was truly a-ma-zing!

So, how would it all come together? Would it look anything like the original, only larger of course? Well, those in 'breakfast church' the next morning witnessed the 'Big Reveal' of the 'Big Paint'. Different paints had been used --- water-colours; acrylics; oils; water-crayons; even some felt pens --- mixed media at its best. Not all the adjacent pieces synchronised completely in size or colour. But did any of this matter? Not one jot . because the whole was a magnificent mosaic re-creation of Hans Holbein's painting of Henry VIII in all his portly glory ANNO . ĂTATIS SUĂ . XLIX Who would have believed it could look so good with such a variety of colours, techniques, and abilities on show in each of the small sections? It was a master-stroke of an idea to recreate this superb master-piece. And what talent came to the fore in the process!

What an excellent way to spend a morning in company of other 'artists', all intent on doing their best not to let the side down, but most importantly having fun in the process! At its simplest, it brought us closer together, and showed us, that, as in church & village life and, dare I say it, in politics, how even our smallest individual contributions can make a difference to the bigger picture.

Thank you, Evelyn, not only for the idea but also for seeing it to fruition and organising such a successful occasion.

Howard Robinson. (March 2017).

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