This is remarkable, via The Guardian:
It’s Michelangelo’s masterpiece all right, superbly replicated by the Sussex church’s deacon, Gary Bevans. Created between 1987 and 1993, his achievement seems all the more remarkable now that digital reproductions of the original are having a bit of a moment. HBO’s The Young Pope and its follow-up The New Pope both use hi-tech digital copies, as does Netflix’s The Two Popes. Yet Bevans’ version is hand-painted. That makes it a human story – and a human masterpiece.
“I’m a trained signwriter,” says Bevans as we gaze up at the prophets, nudes and scenes from Genesis. “That was my craft when I left school. It’s a lovely old craft – pub signs, shop fronts, lorries before they were done in vinyl. I had a love of doing old masters for pleasure.”
Bevans never went to art college: everything he knows about fine art he has “picked up by experience” and by curiosity. “I like the Renaissance: I see that as the height of western art. I do love to see the visual in a church – smells and bells. It lifts you from the bland reality of life. All churches should be like this.”
Certainly, if you like incense and tolling bells, there’s no place like Rome. Michelangelo gave the Vatican its defining glory when, in 1508, he started to fresco the vaulted ceiling of the papal chapel built by Pope Sixtus IV (hence “Sistine”). When Bevans saw the ceiling for himself in the 1980s, it was midway through a restoration that had uncovered a much more luminous and colourful creation than anyone expected.
“About 20 of us went from here to Rome on a pilgrimage,” says Bevans. “I came back and looked at this white ceiling and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have Renaissance art here.’”
The parish priest was cautiously encouraging, saying: “‘Do you think you could do it?’” As progress was made, TV cameras and tourists were drawn in, their contributions helping to fund the work. Bevans himself wasn’t paid and had to keep one eye on his sign-painting business. “Juggling my time, I had to make sure I provided for my young children and wife.”