by Paul Keaveny THIS controversial painting shows Christ being crucified on a twisted girder from the World Trade Centre in New York.

The twin towers of the centre were destroyed in the September 11 terror attacks in 2001 and the skeletons of the buildings are represented at the base of the cross.

The painting is the work of Horwich artist Morton Murray and is entitled "Father Forgive Them".

He says people have been both moved and upset at the painting.

It is to appear in a locally produced book, "Droplets of Colour", which will feature art from across the North-west.

He also hopes the painting will be accepted for display at The Lowry. Since he finished the painting in December, 2001, three months after the terror attack, he has put it on display three times and he says he gets a range of reactions from people who see it.

"Some have been quite moved and upset, but most people shake their heads and I think maybe fail to understand it," he said.

"I suppose it depends on your outlook. It was not intended to be a religious image, but it worked out that way.

"It's a humanitarian statement, rather than a religious or political one."

He added: "My personal view, brought up as a Christian, is, when the human race transgresses against its own, we crucify Christ all over again.

"It has happened before and it will surely happen again.

"The only way I could cope with the images I had seen was in my art."

He says the acrylic painting is an abstract piece inspired by Salvador Dali's rendering of Christ on the cross towering above the world. Mr Murray, of Catherine Street West, also wrote a poem to accompany the painting.

It beat works by other local artists to be selected to appear in "Droplets of Colour". He is to receive a trophy for winning the competition.

Pat Senior, artistic director at the Blackrod-based art publishing company, also called Droplets of Colour, said Mr Murray had a rare talent.

"I have never seen anything like this before, it's quite amazing and inspirational and controversial as well," said Mrs Senior, who is a retired artist.

She now intends to compile a book dedicated to the art of Mr Murray who set up Horwich Art Society with two friends in 1996.

"Droplets of Colour" will be available from Waterstones in November.