Black Jesus painting installed at St Albans Cathedral in solidarity with Black Lives Matter

A Last Supper by Lorna May Wadsworth

Jesus is depicted as a black man in a painting being installed at St Albans Cathedral in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

'A Last Supper' by Lorna May Wadsworth is inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper and depicts a black Jesus with his arms outstretched. 

Ms Wadsworth said she wanted to challenge the "Western myth" that Jesus had light hair and blue eyes.

The cathedral said the painting was being placed in the North Transept as part of a prayer installation inviting people to "look with fresh eyes at something you think you know". 

"At St Albans Cathedral we stand with the Black Lives Matter movement to be allies for change - building a strong, just and fair community where the dignity of every human being is honoured and celebrated; where black voices are heard, and where black lives matter," the cathedral said. 

The installation is available for viewing from 4 July. 

Ms Wadsworth said the painting had made her think afresh about portrayals of Jesus.

"Painting the Last Supper altarpiece made me really think about how we are accustomed to seeing Jesus portrayed," she said.

"Experts agree he would most likely have had Middle Eastern features, yet for centuries European artists have traditionally painted Christ in their own image.

"I cast Jamaican-born model, Tafari Hinds, as my Jesus to make people question the Western myth that he had fair hair and blue eyes.

"My portrayal of him is just as 'accurate' as the received idea that he looked like a Florentine. I also knew that, from a previous portrait of Tafari, there is something in his countenance that people find deeply empathetic and moving, which is the overriding quality I wanted my Christ to embody."