Neil Macpherson, ‘A Mayfair and the Congregation’, 2016, Portal Painters

The inspiration for this painting comes from a book in the Thurso library written in the 19th century called Ministers and Men of the Far North that tells of prominent ministers and lay preachers of the north. One of the ministers detested the spring fairs where the poor people of the glens came to be hired by the landowners for summer work. This was the only day in the year when his church was empty because the fair became a gathering point for entertainment over the weekend and in the minister's words it attracted 'reprobate actors, painted ladies, and assorted ne'er do wells' to his town. In the painting I have the assorted actors, on the temporary stage with the unseen congregation watching the show with the empty church in the background.

The preachers in the book who were called 'the men' were peculiar to the far north of Scotland, and to some of the Hebridean Islands, but although they were known as 'the men' many of these preachers were actually women and held their services without churches.

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