A permanent exhibition to honour the life and work of British sculptor and stained-glass artist Frank Roper has been set up in a revamped Cardiff church.
The Frank Roper Centre in the Church of Resurrection, Ely, will be unveiled in a special service of re-dedication led by the Bishop of Llandaff, June Osborne, on Sunday, February 24.
It centres on a series of oak wall panels telling the story of Frank Roper, whose works can be found in churches throughout the Llandaff Diocese and beyond.
Originally from Yorkshire, Roper settled in South Wales and established a foundry on the ground floor of his Penarth home – from where he executed many of his commissions.
His most productive period was during the 1960s when he collaborated with architect George Pace to create a series of commissions for the bomb-damaged Llandaff Cathedral, along with Jacob Epstein and John Piper. These include his bronze panels of Welsh flowers mounted on the medieval reredos of the Lady Chapel in Llandaff Cathedral. (below)
Examples of his work can be found in churches and cathedrals throughout England and Wales.
The service of re-dedication follows a major £200,000 revamp of the church which includes a new roof and an overhaul of the internal decorations.
Parish priest the Revd Jan Gould said, “We have been very fortunate to receive a substantial grant of £126,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which along with several other very generous grants, made this work possible.
“For the Church of the Resurrection, a large part of our heritage is linked to the family of Lord and Lady Glanely, but what we also have to celebrate are numerous works by the late Frank Roper.
“So, in addition to re-dedicating the church on this day we will also be launching the Frank Roper Centre which is our humble attempt to make more widely known the wonderful work of this incredibly forward-thinking sculptor.
“He was so prolific and talented but so little known, so it is fantastic to be able to promote his work in a permanent exhibition in this way.”
Roper’s daughter, Rachel Michaelides, who has lived in Cyprus for many years has been tracked down and will fly over to attend the service along with a great nephew of Lord Glanely, Mr Jonny Homfray.
First Minister Mark Drakeford is hoping to attend along with local MP Kevin Brennan and other local dignitaries including head teachers.
Following the re-dedication service, the church will open every Sunday until 4pm, with specially trained volunteers available to provide guided tours of the Roper work on display in the building.
As part of the revamp the internal colour scheme has been changed to white, with claret carpets and gold curtains.
“This has been my vision for such a long time – this church is at the heart of the community, but it was looking very dated and not very welcoming but now it is going to be great for the next 100 years,” added Revd Gould.
It total, the church has eight examples of Roper’s work, some of which were donated by parishioners.
The refurbishment work was made possible thanks to a £126,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Other grants came from The National Churches Trust, The Representative Body of the Church in Wales, The Garfield Weston Foundation, the Welsh Church Act Fund and the All Churches Trust.
All are welcome to attend the service of re-dedication on Sunday, February 24, at 10am.
- Revd Jan Gould at the Church of Resurrection, Ely
- Examples of Roper’s work at St German’s Church, Adamsdown (below) and St John the Baptist, Cardiff city centre (below)