Cathedral gifted renowned paintings inspired by grief of Mary, mother of Jesus

Cathedral gifted renowned paintings inspired by grief of Mary, mother of Jesus

Art lovers will have the opportunity to view the suite of eight paintings by renowned New Zealand artist Melvin Day entitled Stabat Mater Dolorosa, which have been gifted to Wellington Cathedral of St Paul by Day’s estate.   They are being unveiled in the Cathedral during the Choral Evensong service on Sunday 18 March at 5pm, and will thereafter be on permanent display.

Melvin Day CNZM was director of the National Art Gallery of New Zealand (now the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) from 1968 to 1978, and later appointed government art historian.  His works have been hung in prominent art galleries here and overseas.

The Stabat Mater suite, painted in 2008, was inspired by Day’s hearing Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater, and depicts his interpretation of the music in forms and colours, which was based on the powerful old medieval hymn of Mary, mother of Jesus, grieving at the cross, which is a defining moment of the Christian faith.  Evoking Mary’s pain, it has inspired composers and artists for centuries.

It is very timely that the paintings have been gifted to the Cathedral.  They have been toured throughout New Zealand, and their permanent resting place during the service in very appropriate as Easter draws near.  Mark Hutchins, fine art expert, will recount a little of Day’s immense contribution to New Zealand’s art scene, and comment on the paintings themselves.  A performance of Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater will be given by Rebecca Woodmore and the Orion Quartet.  The Cathedral Choir will sing other Passiontide music during the service.

All are welcome to attend (there is no charge), and light refreshments will be served after the service.

  • What:  Melvin Day’s Stabat Mater suite unveiling, with performance of Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater
  • Where: Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, cnr Molesworth & Hill Sts
  • When: 5pm Sunday 18 March, during Choral Evensong