Ipswich St Mark’s unveils new Divine Mercy painting

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Ipswich St Mark’s unveils new Divine Mercy painting

St Mark’s Catholic Church in Ipswich celebrates Advent with a new Divine Mercy painting, commissioned by Fr Luke Goymour and crafted by his brother, artist Ben Goymour.


St Mark’s Catholic Church in Ipswich kicked off the new liturgical year this Advent with the delivery of a new painting of the Divine Mercy. The five-foot oil painting was commissioned for the Church by parish priest, Fr Luke Goymour and painted by his brother, professional artist, Ben Goymour. Fr Luke explains, “I wanted to replace the small, faded image of the Divine Mercy that we had with something that was worthy and that would enhance the church building. Over the years, I have grown in my appreciation of the Divine Mercy devotion and find the celebration of the feast day of Divine Mercy pastorally very powerful. I spoke to various members of the parish and there was a lot of excitement at the possibility of getting a large image of the Divine Mercy painted. When I suggested that my brother, might be able to help us out, a couple from the parish who were familiar with his work, came forward and said that they would like to pay for the painting.”

Fr Luke then contacted his brother who came and measured up the space and set about creating the image. Ben Goymour is an accomplished artist, who specialises in seascapes but has proven extremely versatile in painting landscapes, cityscapes, animals, and celebrities. Up until now, however, he had never tackled a religious subject and never attempted to paint Christ, for him this would be a new challenge.

Ben explains, “I spent a long time working out how to technically paint the subject as it was very different to anything I had painted before. The real technical issues were painting the very thin lines tapering to nothing on the rays coming from Jesus’ heart. I had to build a straight-line painting device, and with the help of my wife, pivot it around so that the angles looked right.”

Ben enjoyed painting Jesus but felt the pressure of the task, “I had to get it right, it was such a famous image which is important to so many people. People pray with this image; it’s going in a church, and it’s got to look a certain way.” Ben described the task of painting Jesus as an immersive activity:

“I spent a lot of time just studying and looking at the image. You have to learn your subject. I probably looked at a thousand different images of Jesus. I had two months preparing for this, even before the brushes came out.”

The process of painting Jesus was for Ben a different experience from anything else he had done.

“I painted him in stages,” he said. “I had to be in the right frame of mind to work on him and couldn’t work on anything else whilst I was painting him. I immersed myself in what I was doing. I couldn’t, for example, paint Jesus, and then have a break and paint a seascape, I had to be completely focused on painting him.”

When asked what he enjoyed most about the painting Ben explained: “I absolutely loved doing the first coat, after doing the necessary prep and making a jig for my easel (as the painting was so big) the painting seemed to flow really nicely, the first day I started at 9 am and painted continuously until late and it started to look like Jesus very quickly. Throughout the day, Jesus seemed to materialise on the board, and it was really rewarding.”

Ben and his wife Kerry came to Mass on Sunday December 3 and presented the image to the parish. After a simple prayer of welcome and thanksgiving, the painting was blessed and installed on the right of the sanctuary. Ben and Kerry were around after Mass to give people the chance to meet the artist. The painting was welcomed enthusiastically by the parish, with one parishioner remarking, “Absolutely stunning” and another, “Seems like Jesus is looking into my soul.” Reproductions of Ben’s interpretation of the Merciful Jesus have been made into prayer cards and have been distributed to parishioners at Mass and are available from St Mark’s. For more information on Ben’s work and to read his story, please visit his website: bengoymour.com.

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