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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 May, 2003, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
'Byzantine' mural unveiled
The mural dominates the yard on all four sides

Belfast's latest wall painting isn't to be found on a gable wall.

Instead it occupies pride of place in Queen's University's Institute of Byzantine Studies.

Funded by the University's Developing Learning and Teaching Fund and art@queen's, the theme of the mural is appropriately 'The Feast of Wisdom'.

The roof-high fresco's vibrant colours surround the viewer on all sides.

The project is a collaboration between Queen's artist in residence Colin McGookin and five students at the institute.

Colin says the artwork was the most physically challenging he has ever done.

"It's not quite the Sistine Chapel but using scaffolding for so long means my knees can really feel it."

The Byzantine Civilisation ran from the fourth century until 1425.

Its art is characterised by rich colours, flattened perspectives and religious themes.

The yard before and after

The students worked closely with visiting Professor Jeffrey Anderson to plan the work.

"Byzantine art is timeless. It combines the eternal with everyday themes relating to people's lives.

"Our mural here includes scenes from the Old and New Testaments, the lives of the Saints and of learned men and women venerated by Byzantine civilisation."

Queen's Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir George Bain was impressed.

"This mural is a visual extraganza for the senses and the mind," he said.

"Its creation as a teaching aid an example of the Institute's enterprise."

Director of the Institute Margaret Mullett said: "We are thrilled with the result. What was once an empty space can now be tied in with our teaching.

"Byzantine Studies immerses a student in a complete and wonderful civilisation. It gives an insight into a world that is vitally important for how we are now. That's why we should study it."

It is hoped that the experiment will lead to a new module at the university 'Patronage in Byzantine Art'.

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