I had no expectations when I first visited the Italian Chapel in Orkney. I’d not seen any photographs larger than postage stamps and knew the barest details of the story of how it came to be there. I was swept away by its magnificence. It’s a space with a special magic; an ornate Italian chapel in a Nissen hut in a desolate place. The contrast between the outside and the inside couldn’t be greater. It’s a living metaphor for many things and will continue to inspire generations.

Here are my reactions:

I’ve wanted to make some art based upon it for a while. It’s an inspiring place. During lockdown I started making papercut art again and designed and cut a three-layer papercut of Domenico at the Chapel.

Domenico - The Hall of Einar - (c) David Bailey

I’ve depicted him holding three paint brushes, visited by the Dove, standing outside the Chapel.

Domenico - The Hall of Einar - (c) David Bailey

I’ve wanted to say a proper thank you to Domenico’s family for their kindness is making us feel so welcome when we went to a civic reception in Moena in northern Italy, where Domenico was from. This was the perfect opportunity. When I finished it I sent it to Domenico’s family as a thank you. They were delighted and also intrigued by the technique.

I included a quote from Domenico which resonates with me, “Where I, in leaving, leave a part of my heart.” It’s a quote that applies to many people who visit.

I’ve used thick acid-free art paper from Windsor & Newton and Daler Rowney Murano for the three layers and acid-free-backed foam board to give a three-dimensional effect, with the intrigue of shadows playing on the paper backing.

Domenico - The Hall of Einar - (c) David Bailey

I only intended to make it as a one-off thank you present. I showed it to one of my friends and he asked me for a copy for himself as a trade for one of his own paintings. He said that other people would be very interested in it as well and that I ought to make several and make them available. Having checked with Domenico’s family whether I had their permission and blessing to do that, here it is, the latest addition to my shop.

Thanks for looking. It’s great to keep the spirit of the Chapel alive. Thanks once again to Domenico’s family.

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