Urban Sketching: Sieh Yih Chapel

Freezing cold but at least was a dry morning when we ventured out to the Changning District’s Sieh Yih Chapel.

View of the chapel from the side

For this outing, I decided on doing vignettes. Brought a new sketchbook from SMLT Art and with the weather, I was fine with just doing a pen-&-ink sketch and alternating between with black and white brush pens.

First sketch (not counting the warm up sketch prior to this)
Sketching from a different view
Using a brush pen to do a quick sketch of the temple nearby, but was too cold, I could only do this small portion.

A bit of history

Xiyantang, commonly known as “Xiyan Cemetery”, is also known as “The Ascension of the Virgin”, it was built in 1929 for the famous Catholic figure Ma Xiangbo and others, covering an area of 63 acres. The church in the cemetery is used for worshippers to hold burial ceremonies and prayers. There is a large bell tower in the north of the church, and the sound can be heard for ten miles when it rings.

The church has a construction area of 239 square meters. It was designed by the famous architect Hudec in Byzantine style, and the Catholic Pan Shiyi assisted in the construction. The appearance is very exquisite with pointed small doors, small windows, thick walls and dome tops.

There used to be fourteen high-quality bronze crucifixes in the cemetery outside the church but at the beginning of the “Cultural Revolution”, the tombs were destroyed, the church and the attached cemetery were confiscated, and now only the church and the bell tower remain.

In 1994 the place was listed as the city’s outstanding historical buildings. The church was returned to the Catholic Shanghai Diocese in 2008, but the cemetery is still part of the Shanghai Zoo.

Thank you for reading.

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