The Journal of Stained Glass, Volume XXIV,
Reviewed by Lance Kasparian, A.I.A.
|In the annual Journal of Stained Glass (volume
XXIV, 2000), the British Society of Master Glass Painters has assembled
a collection of articles, reports and reviews selected to promote fresh
insight on the study of stained glass, and inspiration for scholars, designers
and the general public alike.
Martin Harrison, a freelance writer and art historian,
who is best known to us as author of the pioneering monograph on Victorian
stained glass in England, 1 sets the tone in a remarkably frank guest editorial.
Having recently curated an exhibition about the London art scene of the
1950's, Harrison declares that he is troubled by standards of stained glass
design today and discouraged by the near absence of stained glass designers
from the ranks of recognized contemporary artists. He attributes this to
a lack of informed and constructive criticism and an attitude of "reticence
- or aesthetic cowardice," which effectively stifles serious consideration.
All of his remarks, which embrace design, historical study and conservation,
signal a challenge to think outside of the box. "The Journal needs," Harrison
writes, "because stained glass needs - not just lists, but to make room
for criticism and interpretation."
For an art medium so defined by religiosity and craft
tradition, Harrison's challenge is undoubtedly considerable. The present
issue of the Journal, in response, offers a comprehensive overview of the
field organized under four subject headings - history; research & methodology;
contemporary practice; and technical inquiry. The result is a useful account
of current work, emerging scholarship, and discoveries written by a diverse
group of contributors. A sampling of the contents will, perhaps, offer
a hint of the spirit behind this issue:
|Featured on the front cover and in the leading article
under "contemporary practice," stained glass artist Alan Younger (who will
speak for the forthcoming Connick lecture in November) contributes a candid
and detailed account of his design for the new East window in the Henry
VII Chapel at Westminster Abbey. Complete with bibliographic references,
this commentary on a major work of contemporary stained glass, is an invitation
to explore current work with an
informed and critical eye.
For the leading article under "history," James Bugslag
of the University of Manitoba, considers Meyer Schapiro's warning that
marginal spaces and framing devices in the visual arts are often taken
for granted, and explores the origins of canopy work in late 12th century
stained glass and its transformation into an object of rich meaning during
the 13th century. Other historical articles are overviews of the life and
work of two 19th century women artists in England, and an exposé
entitled "The Other William Morris," relating the story of one William
T. Morris, who expanded his glazing firm in early 20th century London by
unofficially linking his name with that of William Morris (1834-1896),
England's best known 19th century designer and craftsman, to whom he was
Under "research & methodology," Richard Marks, President
of the International Corpus Vitrearum presents a survey of recent scholarship
in the field of medieval stained glass, noting the benefits of increasingly
pluralistic approaches since WWII. "Because glass is a fragile medium which
needs to be safe-guarded," Marks observes, "publications accessible to
a wide social spectrum will remain essential, but so will the need for
detailed, weighty academic scrutinies of every aspect of the subject."
Following this is an article, complete with sample data reports, demonstrating
the use of the British census to study 19th century stained
Alan Younger FMGP, detail of East window,
2000, Henry VII Chapel Westminster Abbey.
Photograph © Peter Cormack
|glass workers in England, and another article
surveying contemporary resources about stained glass on the internet. As
testament to the broad outlook of this issue, even the subject of environmental
ethics is touched upon under "technical inquiry," where John Barrett, a
retired engineer and teacher of art to adults diagnosed with schizophrenia,
discusses the founding of the Recycled Bottle Glass Center Ltd., and his
innovative technique for reclaiming flat sheets from waste glass bottles
for use in stained glass.
Presented in an attractive, readable, and well-illustrated
format, the present issue of the Journal of Stained Glass represents an
open embrace of the medium as a visual art and cultural expression. With
its complement of reviews, reports, obituaries and appreciations, it is
an important source of information about the current study and practice
of stained glass in the U.K. Furthermore, where its articles provide
a reliable source of factual information and critical thought, skillfully
edited with supporting bibliographies, it is an invaluable reference.
1 Victorian Stained Glass. Barrie & Jenkins.
1980. (revised edition forthcoming)
Lance Kasparian is an architect and historian who has
researched American stained glass for over twenty years. He kindly contributed
reviews of books for both our October 2000 and June 2002 newsletters.
* A few copies of this journal will be for sale at the
lecture on November 5th (see overleaf). Or inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org
for alternative purchase information.
||The Connick Foundation has received
two anonymous contributions totaling $30,000 that will be used to help
materials for our upcoming exhibition.
||Please address questions, comments
and/or gifts to Marilyn B. Justice, President, at The Connick Foundation.
"Measure thrice, cut once":
glazing the clerestory of King Henry VII's Chapel,
An Illustrated Lecture by Alan Younger F.M.G.P.
The Orin E. Skinner annual lecture on stained glass will
be given by Alan Younger at 6:30 p.m. on November 5th in the Rabb Lecture
Hall, Boston Public Library, Copley Square. This lecture,
co-sponsored by the Boston Public Library and The Connick Foundation, is
free and open to the public.
The lecture will focus on the creation of Alan Younger's
window, installed in 2000, in the late fifteenth-century Henry VII Chapel
at Westminster Abbey. The window is a contemporary expression of traditional
themes, but its iconography and some aspects of its technical/stylistic
treatment make reference to the Chapel's original (now lost) medieval glazing
scheme. Other influences include the
Arts & Crafts Movement, as reflected in the lecture
title, which is taken from Christopher Whall's classic book Stained
Alan Younger is one of Britain's most distinguished artist-craftsmen
in stained glass. After training at the Central School of Arts &
Crafts in London, he worked with Lawrence Lee and Carl
Edwards before setting up his own studio in 1966. Since that date he has
designed and made over one hundred windows, mainly for
churches throughout the U.K. and in Ireland. His commissions have
included stained glass for the Cathedrals of Durham,
St Albans, Chester and Southwark and for Westminster Abbey. He has also
made heraldic glass for Oxford and Cambridge Colleges and for the Halls
of Livery Companies in the City of London. His windows commemorating Field
Marshals of the British Army were recently installed in the Chapel of the
Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Overseas commissions have included
extensive glazing schemes for palaces and mosques in Saudi Arabia.
Alan Younger is a Vice-President and Fellow of the British
Society of Master Glass-Painters, member of the Art-Workers' Guild,
Trustee of the Stained Glass Museum and part-time Lecturer
in Fine Art at the American International University in London.
"I want to make beautiful interiors for both churches
I want...[all people] to hear my windows singing..."
Charles J. Connick