SANCTUS walkabout at Spiritfest


A walkabout with contemplative mediation, accompanied by artwork, is what Julia Skeen will be bringing to Spiritfest this year.

The walkabout and meditation takes place in the Chapel of St Mary and All Angels situated on the Rhodes University Campus. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Grahamstown which was built for the nuns of the Community of the Resurrection (CR) over a century ago. The fresco above the apse in the chapel was painted between 1924-28, by Sr Margaret CR, who was working in a CR home for unmarried mothers in Queenstown.

Skeen notes that “The russet-brown brickwork of the chapel provides an earthy matrix for the blue and gold of the fresco and the flurry of white-winged angels. The architecture, building materials and the theme of the chapel draw on the small chapel in Assisi where St Francis is said to have heard angels singing.”

Throughout the walkabout and moments of meditation and silence, Skeen will discuss two of her own recent artworks. A triptych which is situated to the right of the altar holds the Madonna in three different cultural settings – Palestinian, African and South American. Culturally specific symbols are incorporated into the oil-on-wood structure, made by Grahamstown cabinet-maker Eric Haarhoff, which will be explained by Skeen.

“The images are contemporary icons shaped by the naturalistic style of the artist. Contemplating the direct gaze of the Christ-of-Spring or the Christ-of-Autumn within the numinous and silent sacred space of the chapel can be a deeply moving personal event” explained Skeen.

Festival goers learn more about contemplative vision and experience a quiet place amidst the rush and bustle of the Festival. The session will include an introduction to the building and images followed by moments of meditation to respond fully to the images, followed by a period of feedback and discussion.

“Peace, quiet, and an opportunity to be in touch with the still point of our being through quietly contemplating the artwork and enjoying the ambience of the beautiful chapel is what the talk offers” Skeen says.

Be sure to join Skeen, on 2 July at 12:00-12:50 at the Chapel of St. Mary and all Angels, Rhodes University Campus.

For more about Spiritfest see:


By Samantha Carolus