Colour Services


The above photo is of the ‘Doom Board’ tympanum at the church of St. James the Great, Dauntsey, Wiltshire, England.  Both photos are by kind permission of Neill Meneer, and subject to copyright.

These medieval paintings are extremely rare - this is is one of only five that survive in Britain, and was re-discovered in the 19th century, having been hidden in the church by the parishioners, hundreds of years ago.  It has recently been reinstated to it’s original position by Andrew Townsend Architects, in conjunction with English Heritage.

Andrew Townsend and Sarah Ball of English Heritage, approached Jackie as an artist to paint the areas of infill where parts of the original 15th and 16th century painting were missing.  These comprised of several vertical oak boards, a horizontal area in the middle where it was surmised that the paint had been applied directly to a roof timber which formed part of the original fixing structure, and the top abutment where the the differing curve of the board meets the present roof. 

As the conservators ‘Ward & Co.’ of Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, began building the support structure, fixing the original panels and applying lime plaster to the horizontal blank areas, Jackie painted a series of sample boards which were used to decide the approach to the coloured infills.  These boards were made of oak as the originals were, and were pit sawn in the old way to replicate the texture.  The samples and the actual boards were primed with rabbit skin gesso, and given a coat of red ochre, as the originals had been, before being painted.

After much discussion and experiment, it was decided that oil paints of the same type as the originals - bar the toxic metal oxides - should be used polychromatically.  The colours were to relate directly to the surrounding originals, but be abstractly applied so there could be no confusion as to where the old stopped and the new began, at the same time as visually blending the composition into a harmonious whole.

This was possibly the first time such a radical approach had been taken on such an historically important painting, and as a result of his foresight, courage and hard work over many years, Andrew Townsend won the ‘John Betjeman’ award for 2007 from SPAB - The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

Jackie Harding felt privileged to be involved with the Doom Board reinstatement, and would be happy to contribute her experience as an artist on similar projects, either here in Britain, or any other country.

At work on the ‘Doom Board’

Photo - Neill Meneer