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Artist paints her way around the whole diocese of Leicester

09 September 2022


A SECONDARY-SCHOOL art teacher has set herself the task of painting pictures of all 310 churches in the diocese of Leicester, where she lives.

What began last summer for the teacher, Hayley Fern, as a quick sketch of Leicester Cathedral to kill time before a meeting has developed into a project that could take her up to five years to complete.

“I have always drawn: I am a lifelong arty person,” Mrs Fern said, who teaches art and design at Rawlins C of E Academy, in Quorn. “I generally carry a sketchbook.” She enjoyed drawing the cathedral so much that she went home and sketched her own church, St John the Baptist, Hugglescote, near Coalville. Then she did the church where she was christened.


“At first, it was a personal journey, doing churches that meant something to me,” she said; “but people suggested other churches, and finally someone asked if I was drawing all the Leicester churches.”

Over the next two evenings, she compiled what she called her “trainspotter’s notebook”, listing them alphabetically to tick off as she goes. Her current tally is 45. “It was just a quiet little hobby in the summer holidays, but this year I have upped the ante,” she said.

“Last summer, I did perhaps a couple a week, but now I am doing it pretty much every day, sometimes two a day.” She also intends to paint at weekends, and during half-terms and other school holidays. “I have ended up discovering parts of the county I have never been to — or heard of — which is quite embarrassing, as I am born and bred Leicestershire.”


Working across a double page in pen and ink and watercolour, she completes a picture in about two hours; but so far she has no idea what she will do with the completed project. Friends have urged her to publish it, and she might put the images on line. “I am not selling them, but if people want to use a picture in some way to make money for their church, I am happy for them to do so. What would be amazing is if somebody knew about all the churches, and wrote about it, they could use my work as illustrations.”


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