Art & Architecture: ‘Still’ by Alison Watt

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'Still', a major work by Scottish artist Alison Watt, is installed in the Memorial Chapel

‘Still’, a monumental 12 foot painting by the Scottish artist Alison Watt, was installed in the Memorial Chapel during the 2004 Edinburgh International Festival, and has remained there since.

The painting received the 2005 ACE (Art+Christianity Enquiry) award for a Commissioned Artwork in Ecclesiastical Space.

During a 2005 interview with James Holloway, Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Alison Watt said: “I worked on ‘Still’ in my studio for about a year; visiting Old St Paul’s almost every day. I needed to go back again and again to the Memorial Chapel to remind myself of the space. It’s the largest work I have ever painted and the most physical thing I have ever done. It was also the most mentally draining. Making ‘Still’ became an obsession.

“The scale and design of the piece was a carefully considered response to the physical structure of the space, yet ultimately I wanted to convey how I felt when I was in the chapel. It was an overwhelming feeling of sadness. It was extraordinary. I thought I knew every inch of the painting but as it started to be installed, I was astonished how little I recognized of it. The work appeared to change and almost miraculously seemed to take on the quality of the space around it. It almost absorbed its surroundings.”

“It was really strange. Once it was installed it seemed as if it had always been there. And I couldn’t actually remember the chapel without it.”

Old Saint Paul's History

Samuel Seabury window in the Lady Chapel

See A History of Old Saint Paul's for more about our historical background.