St. Patrick Cathedral 1993-94

St. Patrick’s Cathedral Bell Tower

Before I moved to Bective, I spent a year in St Patrick’s Cathedral sketching. I would go for the full day, three or four times a week. I enjoy the peacefulness in a church or cathedral and often spent time in them. Maybe that’s why I now live in a church.

St Patrick’s is a subject I’ve returned to many times over the years referring to those drawings and sketches. Sometimes I work in oil and other times with pastel and water colour. This is why there are mixed mediums and styles in the collection.

The cathedral is a splendid ancient Gothic gem, vast with a high vaulted ceiling. It’s steeped in history. In every corner there is ancient memory of the Knights as well as the people who pass through this dark, historic building. One can feel always a palpable presence.

It has many visitors. Although, when I was present there were times when no tourist was there and I had the place almost to myself. Often a person would stand for a while observing what I was sketching after which they might make some comment. Some would stay and chat for longer periods.

One day in particular there had been no visitors for hours. Suddenly I felt a presence behind me. Concentrating deeply on what I was doing I didn’t turn around to see who it was. The very air was calm, cold and still. I had a strange eerie feeling that I couldn’t shake off. A shiver ran down my spine but my attention was deeply fixed on my drawing. 

The presence stayed for what seemed like an age without a solid word spoken. Then I heard a single note, a tiny, quiet, mouse like squeak from the sole of a shoe that reverbretated through the building. I felt the presence move away gliding silently over the hard mosaic floor.

I thought to myself ‘that was strange whoever it was never made a comment or said a word’. Not for a full minute did I have a complete picture of the incident. There in the still, cold air I sat as the vapor rose like a tranquil mist slowly, ever so gradually to encapsulate me.

When it reached my nose it registered with me what had actually happened. A strong pungent odour gradually filled my nostrils paralyzing me. I realized without doubt that the phantom visitor had left a secret mark. I sat there stunned, glued to the pew, immobilized, frozen in the wake of an ever so silent fart.