Sunday 27 November 2011

The Mansfield Traquair Centre

In 1873 the short lived christian group, the Catholic Apostolic Church, built a church at Mansfield Place in Edinburgh. The history of this group in Edinburgh finishes in 1958 with the death of their last priest and the building changed hands several times until a group was formed to look after it in the early '90s. The building is generally available weddings and events and once a month (more often during the festival) it opens it's doors to the general public. It's worth keeping your eyes open for the open days, because in 1893 the church commissioned Phoebe Anna Traquair to paint a mural for them. She continued to paint murals in the church for 8 years, leaving it lavishly and beautifully decorated indeed.

We had an exceptionally well informed guide who told us that this, the chancel arch, was the first part of the murals to be painted and that the church would have prescribed very much what the wanted it to contain so that it matched their creed.

I'm not sure if the ceiling above the alter is part of Phoebe's work or not but it is lovely and worth a look.

After the initial mural Phoebe was give more scope in what she could paint. In the chancel aisles are scenes from the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. 

The panels around the main story are full of angels, biblical scenes and animals and birds, all tied up in a profusion of William Morrisish foliage and celtic designs.

There were some poorly lit parts but these cheery fish are worth a look anyway.

The West wall shows the second coming of Christ.

Along the sides of the building, scenes from the Old Testament are portrayed on one side and the New on the other.

Joseph dreaming.

At no point in the building is the crucifixion portrayed. They go straight from the betrayal of Christ to here.

It's worth pointing out that these murals are not the work of a team under the leadership of Mrs Traquair, she painted it all herself. There is much more of her work available to see in Edinburgh, including the Song School at St Mary's (where the marvellous window in the last blog lives) which is only open during the festival and the Chapel at the Sick kids hospital (I'm not sure if it's available for the public to see at all). There's also plenty of her work in the museum on Chambers Street.


The Glebe Blog said...
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The Glebe Blog said...

Been reading her Wikipedia page Sandy, she was certainly one talented lady.

Crafty Green Poet said...

wonderful photos, its an amazing building, the paintings are beautiful...

Shundo said...

Thanks for once again shedding light on some lesser-known beauty.

Sandy's witterings said...

Thank you people. I was asking a friend about the Pheobe murals in the sick kids. It can be seen for the asking, unfortunately the chapel is used as a morgue by the hospital.

For those in Edinburgh, there is a painted piano by her in the museum and a few of her enamels. There is also a little of her enamel work in the Thistle chapel at St Giles.

Poppy (aka Val) said...

I don't know how I missed this blog, what an amazing building, I would love to see it myself, next time I am up your way maybe!! Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and New Year, take care :)