Learn how Worthing church’s reproduction of Sistine Chapel ceiling came about at special exhibition

The ceiling painted by Gary Bevans at English Martyrs Catholic Church in Goring. Photo by Derek Martin.
The ceiling painted by Gary Bevans at English Martyrs Catholic Church in Goring. Photo by Derek Martin.

English Martyrs Catholic Church in Worthing, famed for its Sistine Chapel ceiling reproduction, is celebrating the golden jubilee of its building.

The church, in Goring Way, Goring, has a programme of festivities over the next few months to commemorate the landmark anniversary.

During August, there will be a special exhibition about the creation of the ceiling by artist Gary Bevans, following a parish pilgrimage to Rome.

Clive Kitchener, church publicist, said: “Gary Bevans is the artist and church deacon who has completed the only reproduction of the Sistine Chapel ceiling anywhere in the world.

“We all know that the original Sistine Chapel ceiling was completed by Michelangelo but with a number of pupils helping him.

“In 1987, Gary saw the Sistine Chapel and came back with the idea that he could reproduce it on the very plain curved ceiling of English Martyrs Church.

“On his visit to Rome, he observed that the chapel’s ceiling in terms of size and shape was almost the same as the ceiling of the parish church in Goring. They are both 44ft wide but the one in Goring was shorter, so it is approximately two-thirds scale in reproduction.”

Gary used plywood and 120 panels were undercoated with primer and white paint before being lifted up on a scaffold and screwed to the ceiling. The scenes were then painted meticulously with acrylic paint to stand the test of time.

Working in the evenings and at weekends, Gary took more than five years to complete the ceiling, painting a 3,500 sq ft area.

Clive added: “Gary completed this replica in 1993 and it remains a major achievement which has to be seen to be believed.

“It reinforces both the beauty and dignity of a special place of worship for which the parish is both grateful and proud. In fact, volunteer parishioners receive many visitors, who are made to feel welcome to see such a splendid site.”

The exhibition will be from August 1 to 31. Entry is free. The church is open for visitors to the Sistine Chapel ceiling from April until October 2019, Mondays from 10am to 1pm, Tuesdays to Fridays 10am to 4pm.