PLEASE come into Romsey Abbey and make up your own mind about our painting of St Ethelflaeda. Only a few members of our congregation are challenged by the artistic style, the representation and position of the work of art and a few overwhelmingly like the painting.

It's worth saying that the Abbey has, over the centuries, been gifted pieces of art work by renowned artists of their time. Some of the old memorials will not be to everyone's taste, the Peter Eugene Ball sculptures are challenging in colour and texture and not everyone will like the representation of the human form distinctive to this artist. We have a Benedictine Monk/Nun which floats in mid air made of chicken wire which is very unusual and not to everyone's taste.

The Abbey has committees and due processes overseen by the authority of Winchester Diocese and for each modern item added to the Abbey in recent years these committees have conducted their work appropriately and sought permissions as required.

Art is challenging, otherwise we would only have photographs hanging on our walls. The Chris Gollon's Diptych follows his inimitable style and was painted deliberately and sympathetically for the Abbey as a sacred space and for the building in terms of colour, size and location. It is therefore unique and can be valued for that reason alone.

It is unfortunate that the words of the objectors have been given prominence as it might give the impression that the Abbey has on display something causing great controversy. To my mind is it causing comment, discussion, debate and an agreement to share differing views over an item of art work.

Several parishioners have also written in support of the painting, expressing opinions which indicate they find the work supportive to worship, helps with thinking about our saints, the role of charity and the austere lives lived by nuns in ancient times.

Come and look for yourselves, the painting in on the south side of the nave next to a highly decorated curtain which hides the nuns doorway, a piece of art that in its self will not be liked by everyone.

I certainly am no art expert, but I know if I like something – but that's just my opinion so what value can you place on that. The best way is to come and see for yourself and make up your own mind.


Romsey Abbey Congregation Member