Cardiff Royal Infirmary Chapel, painted by Malcolm Murphy.

Splott artist celebrates 100 years of Cardiff Royal Infirmary Chapel

Painter commemorates the centenary of an Adamsdown landmark that is close to his heart

A SPLOTT artist has been commissioned to paint Cardiff Royal Infirmary’s old chapel to commemorate its 100-year anniversary.

Malcolm Murphy’s painting will be on display from next month at the chapel, which is now Adamsdown and Roath Library.

“This painting is important to me because of the location. I was born opposite the Cardiff Royal Infirmary and I still live in Splott,” he said.

“My mother used to work in the Cardiff Royal Infirmary cleaning, and I spent a few nights being treated there,” said Mr Murphy, 51, who took 60 hours to paint the piece.

Repurposing the chapel

The chapel, which is a grade II listed building, was closed to the public in 1999. It has since been restored and now serves as a meeting place, gallery and cafe for CRI patients, visitors and the general public.

Many now defunct churches in Cardiff have undergone similar transformations, becoming museums, cafes and even arts venues.

Navigate the map and click the pins to read more about other repurposed churches in Cardiff. The red pin is CRI Chapel.

The painting of the chapel was commissioned by the Arts for Health and Wellbeing Programme at Cardiff & Vale Health Charity, and prints were gifted to Cardiff Royal Infirmary staff and supporters with funding from the Staff Lottery.

Run by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, the programme promotes art in hospitals, with galleries and exhibits to improve health and wellbeing.

It also encourages staff and patients to participate in creative arts.

Art in the Community

As a local artist, Mr Murphy takes part in fundraising schemes in and around Cardiff. In 2020, he donated a painting of Cardiff Street Orchestra to the Arts for Health and Wellbeing Programme.

A souvenir of the first lockdown, Cardiff Street Orchestra was a group of musicians who did socially-distanced performances to cheer people up in 2020. Image: Malcolm Murphy

It was put on display at the Hearth Gallery, at University Hospital Llandough in Penarth.

Mr Murphy has been painting commercially since he was 15.

“I learned to paint by doing pictorials – the swinging pub signs. You learn quickly because you’re under pressure and you have to paint everything twice because they’re double-sided.”

“The fine art didn’t come until much later.”

Hear more about the process of painting this piece from Mr Murphy. Thumbnail image: Kalamikid

The painting of the chapel is Mr Murphy’s first commission for an oil painting by a public company, rather than an individual.

He said: “I think this is my best commission. It is closely linked to me and it is important to a lot of Cardiffians. 

“Doing a project on this scale, I think you have got to have a feeling for it.

“If I was to go to London, and somebody said to me, ‘Paint me that chapel over there,’ I wouldn’t have that feeling for it. I could do it and it would be a lovely picture, but I don’t think it would have that personal essence, that homely feel.

“So many people have found solace at the chapel. It felt very natural for me to paint it.”

Malcolm Murphy’s self-portrait. Image: Malcolm Murphy
Malcolm Murphy painting. Image: Malcolm Murphy

Mr Murphy donated an original painting of Llandaff Village Green to City Hospice for its annual art auction last year.

Cate Brannigan, 58, of Llandaff, was an ambassador for the hospice at the time. 

“I believe it raised a significant amount towards City Hospice’s final fundraising total.”

“I am a big fan of Mr Murphy’s work and the CRI chapel is such an iconic building and such a part of the fabric of that area of Cardiff. I worked opposite the site for five years or so, and that’s why it resonated with me.”

Cardiff Royal Infirmary Chapel by night. Image: Ellie Crabbe

Mr Murphy took pains to make sure he captured its famous stained glass accurately. 

He took photographs early in the morning to avoid traffic, but also at night to see the chapel lights illuminating the stained glass.  

“I wanted to show how the chapel is a light in the darkness for many,” said Mr Murphy.

  • The painting will be on permanent public display from March 17.