A portrait of the former Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Michael Perham, will go on public display from today. All are welcome to view the painting at Church House, College Green where it will remain on display throughout the summer.
The painting, by acclaimed artist Lorna May Wadsworth, will be the latest addition to a collection of portraits of former bishops held in trust at the cathedral.
The painting shows Bishop Michael in animated posture set in front of the stained glass windows of the South Ambulatory Chapel in Gloucester Cathedral.
The painting was commissioned by the Diocese of Gloucester, as has been traditional with previous bishops. Diocesan Secretary, Benjamin Preece Smith said: “We were delighted that Lorna agreed to take on this commission. She is a very gifted artist with an insightful understanding of Church tradition, iconography and history which she has brought to a brilliant interpretation of our brief.”
Artist Lorna May Wadsworth said: “I was told by those who know him well that Bishop Michael is most in his element when he is performing the Eucharist, so I wanted this theme to be an integral part of the portrait from the outset – to try and capture a sense of blessing and of a pastor in the act of ministering to the people. Before I embarked on the painting I watched Bishop Michael taking the Easter service at Gloucester Cathedral, and also morning communion with his staff at his private chapel in Bishopscourt.
Bishop Michael and artist Lorna May Wadsworth, and an image of the portrait.
“When choosing where to set the portrait, the beautiful blue stained glass windows by Tom Denny in the South Ambulatory Chapel seemed the perfect setting. Referencing the use of gold in traditional icon paintings, I used shades of 23-carat-gold-leaf underneath my blue oil paint in capturing the windows, to try and convey a sense of heavenly light streaming through. The painting was done from life with Bishop Michael in April 2014, over a week spent in situ in the Chapel.”
Lorna has strong links with Gloucestershire and Bishop Michael, having previously painted an altarpiece for a church in the Diocese of Gloucester. Bishop Michael took the inaugural service at the church after the painting was completed, at which Lorna’s parents were present.
Bishop Michael said of the portrait: “I feel honoured and humbled to think that this will hang with portraits of other former bishops for people to enjoy and be reminded of a long heritage of Christian ministry stretching back through the centuries.”
The portrait was unveiled to coincide with a service of thanksgiving at Gloucester Cathedral on 13 June. Over 1000 people attended the service to give thanks to God for Bishop Michael’s ministry in this diocese. He served as Bishop of Gloucester for over ten years before he retired in November 2014.