Tuesday, September 27, 2016

21st century stained glass

click photo to enlarge
The year 2000 saw a proliferation of "millennium windows" in the UK's churches. The stained glass that they added to chancels and naves was, as might be expected, of varying quality. Moreover, there was no unanimity on whether the compositions should be figurative or abstract. I haven't done any research on this issue, but my feeling, having visited many churches in the past sixteen years, is that figurative work substantially outnumbers the windows that are abstract. I include amongst the figurative those windows that have elements of abstraction but also have recognisable objects - people etc - "semi-abstract" if you like.

Today's main photograph shows a detail from a fully abstract window of 2005 by Glenn Carter in the church of St Denys, Sleaford, Lincolnshire. It is a tribute by Eddy Double to his late wife, Yvonne Double (1938-2003), an active member of the church.St Denys is a church where the majority of windows are filled with stained glass, including, unusually, those in the clerestory. However, quite a few have light coloured glass or areas where darker glass is concentrated, with lighter glass elsewhere. This is presumably deliberate to allow sufficient light into the building. It may be this precedent that prompted the composition of a band of stained glass across the three lights of this window in the south aisle of the nave, with clear glass elsewhere.

I like this stained glass - the colours, drawn lines, the cluster of shapes, and the overall composition. What I can't see - can anyone? - is the way the "design reflects the shape, structure and emotion" of Schumann's "Arabesque" Opus 18, a favourite piece of the deceased, and how this particular group of colours "symbolises various aspects of the Christian faith." Incidentally, the appreciation of this window, like many in churches, suffers from the background of trees and the impinging of the buttresses that flank the window on the exterior. My small photo emphasises this, and the eye is not quite as troubled by it when you actually view the window.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: 2005 Stained Glass, St Denys, Sleaford, Lincolnshire
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 80mm (160mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On