Shropshire Star

Religious artist Aidan adds his own work to historic frescos at Shrewsbury church

The congregation at a Shropshire church has new artwork to admire during services.

Aidan Hart has just finished some wall murals in the Shropshire church where he has been working for some time

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Fathers of Nicaea, in Shrewsbury already had religious ancient frescos on the walls.

Medieval wall paintings were discovered there in 1996 and these were added to in 2012 by artist and member of the congregation, Aidan Hart.

Aidan Hart with one of the roundels he painted

Mr Hart, recognised as one of the top UK religious artists, has recently finished more frescos on the north and south walls.

“There was a strip of fairly recent plaster around the top of the north and south walls.

“I have created 17 roundels, the busts of nine female saints on one side and eight male saints on the other.

Two of the wall paintings that Mr Hart has completed at his church

“There were chosen by the congregation, some that have meaning to the local area such as St Chad, others who have meaning to our individual members.

“They bring the artwork from the sanctuary into the body of the church.”

The church adorned with icons

Mr Hart was raised in New Zealand and travelled to monasteries around the world before settling in England and moving to Shropshire in 1983.

He lived at the Hermitage in Stiperstones for a time, dedicating his life to the site.

The large mural above the altar, previously created by Aidan Hart

Since then he had created art for churches in about 25 countries.

“Some of the art I can do here and then it is transported to the church but others, including of course the wall paintings, have to be done in situ,” he said.

“I did two very large pieces for a church in Houston in Texas.”

The roundels Aidan Hart has just finished creating that should saints including St Chad, so important to Shrewsbury

His skills have also seen him accept commissions from His Holiness Kirill Patriach of Russia and from The Prince of Wales for a chapel at Highbury.

He says that an intense life of prayer had a profound effect on his work.

And so, to meet the liturgical needs of the churches who commissioned him over the past 30 years, Aidan became an expert in a wide range of media – egg tempera panel painting, fresco, stone and wood carving, illuminated manuscript painting, church furniture design and most recently, mosaics.

An altar carving done by Mr Hart

Mr Hart said he was honoured to be creating art for his home church, however he said there were disadvantages.

“As a member of the congregation, if I am not happy with my work, I have to still see it,” he said.

The medieval wall painting were among finds at the Greek Orthodox Church amid a major house building project.

Aidan Hart outside the church

Archaeologists spend months at the site before 300 homes were built on neighbouring land with the dig funding by the develpers.

They discovered that the church had once extended out a further 17 metres and said at the time they believed it had been an Anglo Saxon Church with a late, medieval addition.

Finds included burials and a carved stone that may have even dated by to the Iron Age or the Romans.

It is believed that the church was originally founded to serve Wenlock Priory.

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