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Painted Appeals – Now and Then

In the early 80’s: The German Democratic Republic has started its rapid economical decline. Religous propaganda is impossible. Posters, flyers and other public relations material for the use within churches are mostly handmade.

The situation within St. Mary’s organ is critical. Many wooden pipes from 18th and 19th century show heavy damage by woodworms. Finally, the ranks of Subbass 16′, Gedacktbass 8′, Gedeckt 8′ (I) and Holzprincipal 8′ (I) will be replaced. The swell box by Börger (1907) will be replaced, too.

But prior to that, funds have to be raised. A damaged pipe was elected to serve as a donation box. The sad expression of the face shall generate consternation to the spectator, as it is the aim of the added poem. (Pipe decoration and poem may be the work of Rev. Ulrich Nath, who was talented both in woodworks and the art of word). All is added by imagery, which may be painted by younger hands, presenting the woodworm as the cruel beast (“He destroys our organ – Help us!”).

By the way, this shows, that the treatment with Xylamon in 1938 was – at least on long-term – unsuccessful. The same will happen again, when the 1983 treatment with Hylotox leaves the organ with a toxic load for its users, but in 2019 with four spots of active woodworms, too.

The pipe is shown here at the place it had in 2007. It may have been placed down in the nave in the 80’s. It is most likely from the 19th century pipe range with references to the Winzer school (in England represented by Winzer’s teacher Schulze). The reduced cut-up with the wooden inset is a general feature of the pipes of this make within the organ and may have been attached in 1938 due to the idea of reducing wind consumption and/or turning the character towards the more gentle side:

In 2018, Sylvi Holtz, responsible for the parish’s outreach and children’s education ministry, invited children to paint a donations appeal. Even here it is a sort of dramatic cry for help, but there is already a share of humour within it! The poster is today shown in the children’s area on the parish’s campus.

The poster is introducing the role of “Oktavius”, an organ pipe, and follows the issues named on the first page of the 2017 Status Report. They are the risk of pipes falling down, fire risk due to short circuits within electrics, dirt within the organ, mute pipes and – again after four decades – the treat of the woodworm.

The project shows the good relation between the kids of the parish and St. Mary’s organ, shown also by the “sleeping in the church” event earlier this year.

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