Sistine Chapel? Wentworth Woodhouse has the Sixteen Chapel, Thanks to ROAR Artists



You’ve heard of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel; now Wentworth Woodhouse has the Sixteen Chapel.

Sixteen volunteers at Rotherham stately home Wentworth Woodhouse are being celebrated – in images on the ceiling of the mansion’s chapel.

Their pictures are the work of two local artists who are members of Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance (ROAR).

Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust and ROAR have linked up to bring artists and their work to the chapel inside the 18th century Grade I listed mansion. Two exhibitions have already been staged and the third, The Sixteen Chapel, will feature the work of Rotherham duo Ken Horne and Chris Slater, a plein air painter. 

They came up with the idea of celebrating the volunteers at Wentworth Woodhouse by rendering 16 of them as characters from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome’s Vatican City.

The pair work together on rapid renderings of people, one in pencil the other in oils, only spending an hour to capture characters and create an image.

Their images of the volunteers will be projected onto the chapel’s ceiling with digital support from artist Luke Walsh.

“We wanted to pay tribute to the Trust’s volunteers, acknowledge their input and the fact that without them the ‘Phoenix-like’ rise of Wentworth Woodhouse could not be happening,” said Ken, a sculptor and image maker.

“We were quite surprised to find there were well over 200 volunteers, not all of them local. There’s a chap from Scotland, who by necessity has to spend a week away from home so he can give his contribution.”

WWPT CEO Sarah McLeod welcomed the idea. “We have 200 volunteers and each one is worth their weight in gold. They all deserve recognition, so we picked 16 at random to sit for the artists and can’t wait to see the result.

“By working with ROAR the Trust is supporting local creative projects, giving local artists the space and help they need to stage exhibitions and enabling people from all walks of life to engage with art. Our Chapel is a place of calm, the ideal setting.”

Sarah added: “For centuries the Rockinghams and Fitzwilliams filled the house with artworks. We are continuing that in a much more accessible way.”

The Sixteen Chapel exhibition is free to visit and runs 10am-4pm Wednesday to Sunday until 26th November 2021.