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Female artist completes largest mural church painting in Asia 

Kochi, Kerala: St George church, Chakkarapparambu in Vyttila, is a unique structure in that it has a square look while most others have arch shape. And now, the church has a mural painting to add to its uniqueness. And the credit goes to Preethi Vinod Chellappan, a mural painting specialist from Bengaluru.

“The 35’ high and 28’ wide work is arguably the single largest mural painting inside a church in Asia,” said Vicar Fr Thomas Mazhuvancheri.

She may be the only woman artist who has been given a commission to do a work at the church in Kerala. “The vicar was very positive and supportive. He liked my work and wanted me to be involved, no matter the cost,” said Preethi.


“I have been doing wall paintings for the last five years, but it was my first work in a church,” Preethi said. “The architect of the church, who had seen mosaic art with yellow colour at the famous St Fatima church in Portugal, wanted me to have a similar work done here.” The architect shared his idea with Preethi and wanted a wall painting on the altar.

The body language were also important. For this, Preethy and co-artist  V T Sujith worked for hours with a model. “We had to ensure there was perfection even to the folds of their robes,” he said.
Not surprisingly, the work was not easy. To do a mural painting, of such height and width, requires a lot of patience and skill. “We were also working on a deadline which meant that we were working most days and even nights. Every time, I worked on the saints, I had to get down (from the scaffolding) and go stand at the back of the church to see how it has come out. That was physically exhaustive,” said Preethi.

The work

 Preethi wanted to introduce a fresh concept in the painting. “I wanted the paining to give out a message of heavenliness and the way to reach there,” she said. “I researched a lot before deciding on what I shall do here.” She visited several churches as part of her research. “What struck me was how easily the embellishments inside the churches distracted devotees.” Preethi realised the importance of capturing the attention of the devotes at a single point, and for that she worked on highlighting the cross. “We had discussed its theological aspects with the parish priest,” she said.

The mural painting completed in St George Church at Chakkaraparambu

Preethi chose yellow to bring positivity to the atmosphere. Jesus was given a dark shade in the 35 feet by 28 feet painting so that it would stand out in the yellow background. She credits her colleague Sujit for the creation the group of saints on the portrait. One of the striking features she mentioned is the direct sunlight that hits on the painting.  They took almost two months to complete the work which is in acrylic.

The artists have used lemon yellow, cadmium lemon and yellow ochre for the background. The beautiful blend of these colours lends a beatific feel. The natural light, made possible with the use of a glass frame at the portion where the mural work has been done, adds to the beauty. The halo of the saints have all been done in gold paint.

Prior to starting the work, the artists studied the history of the early church and the saints. They also carefully learned the mannerisms of the church ancestors. “Each and every facial expression was important. We had to ensure that there was a touch of serenity, holiness and lack of aggressiveness,” said Sujith.

The black metal figure

Unlike most crucifixes kept at churches, the one on top of the altar is of a metal black Christ. “We had travelled to many churches and seen Christ in different colours in many countries. The reason why we chose to colour it dark, is because it was in direct contrast to the yellow background,” said Fr Thomas. Also, there are no arches at the altar.

“We decided that we will depict the arch (which symbolises the holy and more holy places) through a simple arch on the mural painting,” he added.Incidentally, the new church, neutrally-designed, with white walls, and modern architecture, took two years to build. The painting was dedicated on May 21.


source: Indian Express


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One Response to Female artist completes largest mural church painting in Asia

  1. Ladislaus Louis D'Souza

    Beautiful! Can’t wait to view the splendour of the mural!