The Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man, the Rt Rev Robert Paterson MA MLC, is the subject of the second in a series of Tynwald Day portraits by Svetlana Cameron.
The portrait follows that completed by Mrs Cameron in 2013, Laa Tinvaal, which depicted a scene with Manx dancers, the crowds and dignitaries with Tynwald Hill in the background.
This second work shows the Bishop in the parish church of Saint John the Baptist in his convocational robes holding the diocesan crozier, presented to the See in 1908 by Miss Mary Talbot in remembrance of her late father, the Rev Theophilus Talbot.
Russian-born Mrs Cameron, who works out of her studio at her home in Braddan, explained: ‘I came to live in the Island nine years ago and, long before I went to St John’s on Tynwald Day, watched the ceremony live on television. Immediately I became interested in the pageantry and the central characters, among them the Bishop, who kindly agreed to sit for the portrait. I chose to place him in the church because, on Tynwald Day, everything starts there with the service, such an important part of the ceremony.
‘On Tynwald Day last year the Bishop gave me a tour of the church. Dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, the Island’s patron saint, the church holds many key features which tie it closely to the Manx Parliament. I decided not to paint the interior in detail because I did not want it to detract attention from the Bishop. Instead I chose to suggest the setting by including only a few selected recognisable elements: the carved wooden furniture and a stained glass panel depicting two important Manx saints, St. Lupus, founder of Malew Church and St. Runius, who founded Marown Church.
‘I was especially keen to depict the crozier as it is heavy with symbolism and, as well as featuring the Three Legs of Man, bears the diocesan arms on one side and a representation of Saint Maughold in a curragh looking up to a star on the other.
‘I had five sittings with the Bishop who, so I could study them closely, generously left with me his robes and the crozier, the intricate silverwork of which proved something of a new challenge for me in this painting where I wanted to capture the moment just before he delivers his blessing to the congregation.’
On viewing the completed portrait the Bishop said: ‘Svetlana’s Tynwald Day painting is brilliant and quite remarkable in its attention both to the spirit and the detail. The thought that succeeding generations may look at this painting fills me with a sense of respect that a photograph never could achieve. I find that my eye is drawn to the right hand reaching out for the Bible; for me, that expresses the meaning of my ministry.’
Fittingly, in the year when the Isle of Man celebrates its artistic and cultural life in Island of Culture 2014, the painting is to go on public display in St German’s Cathedral as part of the permanent collection, following its unveiling there on Sunday January 19th.