News

27th International Colloquium of the Corpus Vitrearum: ‘Word and Image’, York, 7–11 July 2014

Katie Harrison reports

Fig. 1. Tim Ayers talking about the Five Sisters window, York Minster

Fig. 1. Tim Ayers talking about the Five Sisters window, York Minster

The 27th Colloquium of the Corpus Vitrearum was hosted by the British CVMA in York at the beginning of July. The historic city provided the ideal setting for the international gathering of colleagues and friends to present their recent research and engage in productive discussions. A generous number of scholarships from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art enabled several students, myself included, to avail themselves of the incredible opportunity to attend the colloquium and present posters alongside renowned scholars.

The theme – Word and Image – drew an exceptionally high standard of papers from both well-established and younger scholars and generated fruitful discussions about the multifaceted roles of inscriptions and the interplay between text and image in stained glass. Thought-provoking questions were also raised about how combinations of text and image were conceived, particularly in relation to other media, as well as the way in which various members of medieval society interacted with inscriptions in stained glass. The discrete sessions into which the sequence of lectures was organized were particularly instrumental in encouraging the contemplation of related aspects of the theme together, making the most of the diverse range of approaches to the topic.

Fig. 2. Visiting All saints, North Street

Fig. 2. Visiting All saints, North Street

The lectures were perfectly complemented by the site visits that followed, both those to York Minster and a selection of York’s medieval churches, as well as further afield to Wragby, Studley Royal and Skelton. The York visits were led by CVMA experts Sarah Brown, Tim Ayers, Richard Marks and David O’Connor of Great Britain; Lisa Reilly and Mary Shepard of the USA; and Rachel Koopmans of Canada. Their insightful introductions to the stained glass in each building set the ground for further discussions, whilst also allowing time for delegates to explore independently. This effective approach was also adopted for the visits to churches further afield, which were introduced by Sarah Brown and Brian Sprakes (a British CVMA author), and Stefan Trümpler of the Swiss Corpus Vitrearum. The choice of Wragby, with its overwhelmingly comprehensive collection of Swiss glass, alongside the nineteenth-century sister churches of St Mary’s, Studley Royal, and Christ the Consoler, Skelton, provided delegates with a stimulating and thought-provoking day.

Fig. 3. Delegates enjoying the Chapter House, York Minster

Fig. 3. Delegates enjoying the Chapter House, York Minster

The evening events showcased several of York’s medieval buildings, including the fourteenth-century Hospitium, St Martin-cum-Gregory Church, and York Minster. In particular, the dinner in York Minster’s thirteenth-century chapter house provided further opportunity to consider the significance of the hagiographical band windows, as well as appreciate the acoustics of this revolutionary building. Regarding the latter, Joseph Spooner’s impromptu encore, following his cello performance during evensong, was especially captivating.

Special thanks are due to Sarah Brown, chairman of the British CVMA, and her team for their hard work and dedication in coordinating and hosting such a well-organized and stimulating programme of events. Many delegates remarked on the exceptionally good atmosphere and success of the 27th Colloquium. The 28th Colloquium in Troyes in 2016 is keenly awaited.


Launch of 'Apocalypse: The Great East Window of York Minster'

The launch of Sarah Brown’s eagerly anticipated new volume Apocalypse: The Great East Window of York Minster [Fig. 1] took place earlier this month, with a large turnout attending the event held in York Minster’s north transept [Fig. 2].

Fig.1. The book cover

Fig.1. The book cover

Stained glass enthusiasts, the staff of York Glaziers Trust, lecturers from the University of York, and members of the larger Minster community were amongst those gathered to celebrate publication of the book, which explores the history of the Great East Window from its creation in 1405 to the conservation that commenced 600 years later, beginning in 2005.

Julian Platt, chairman of the book’s publisher, Third Millennium, spoke about the conception and production of the lavishly illustrated book, thanking those involved and praising the quality of the writing and the photographs, while Dean Vivienne Faul noted the support of the York Chapter in bringing the York Minster Revealed project to fruition. Sarah Brown, the author, described the background of the window and stressed the collaborative nature of the conservation project and the book, and thanked the York Minster Fund for its support, but above all, the creator of the window, John Thornton.

Apocalypse reproduces the entire cycle in colour for the first time, and examines the making, history, meaning and conservation of the window. It also contains a chapter contributed by theologian Paula Gooder on the interpretation of the Apocalypse.
The book is available for purchase online now from the Third Millennium website.

Fig. 2. The launch

Fig. 2. The launch

Sarah Brown is Director of the York Glaziers Trust, a lecturer in history of art at the University of York, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and chairman of the British Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi. She is currently overseeing the conservation of York Minster’s Great East Window as part of the York Minster Revealed, a conservation and interpretation project made possible by generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.


Fundraising for Chartres Stained-Glass Conservation

The American Friends of Chartres (AFC) has launched a crowd-funding campaign in the United States of America to help conserve and preserve thirteenth-century stained-glass windows in the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Chartres, France. The AFC, an organization established in 2005 to raise funds for the restoration and preservation of Chartres, hopes to raise around $250,000 towards the conservation of lancets in the second bay from the west on the south side of the nave. The lancets depict St Peter and St James Major, and are being referred to in the fund-raising campaign as the ‘Bakers Window’ because of the scenes below the figures of the saints, which show bakers making and selling bread [Fig. 1].

Fig. 1, The windows (c) Painton Cowan

Fig. 1, The windows (c) Painton Cowan

The lancets contain bread imagery alongside the two most celebrated apostle figures in the cathedral; below the figure of St James, the lancet closer to the west, the two ‘bread scenes’ show in the upper register a man on a kneading table holding a baker’s tool, apparently ready to mould and shape dough, and in the lower register two men carrying a basket of bread. In the St Peter lancet, the small-scale scene depicts a bread stall – complete with display – from which a merchant sells a loaf. As Jane Welch Williams demonstrates in her book Bread Wine and Money: The Windows of the Trades at Chartres Cathedral, the bread scenes (which imply a narrative sequence from west to east, a movement towards the altar) are suggestive of offering. This glazing is a fitting recipient for a financial offering from the AFC for its conservation. To contribute to the fund-raising, click here, and to learn more about the project, see the website.


Swansea Glass Workshops

The Architectural Glass Centre, the commercial arm of the Swansea School of Architectural Glass, is continuing its programme of glass-painting workshops/masterclasses with Jonathan Cooke in 2014. The next workshop, which is run over three and a half days, is planned for 26–29 September 2014. The workshop is suitable both for beginners and for those with previous experience of glass-painting. Jonathan will demonstrate glass-painting using a technique whereby a number of layers of paint can be built up prior to firing. He will also discuss materials, tools and firing schedules. During the workshop there will be ample time for participants to practice the technique and to produce samples.

An additional two-and-a-half day workshop will be available focusing specifically on the use of enamels and silver stain. This runs from 30 September to mid-day on 2 October.

Further details on all courses are available from Amanda Hughes (01792 481199, amanda hughes [at] sm [dot] uwtsd [dot] ac [dot] uk) or Alun Adams (01792 481084, alun [dot] adams [at] sm [dot] uwtsd [dot] ac [dot] uk