- In Memoriam George Wigley
- York Minster Stained Glass Navigator
- First World War Memorial Window Restored
- Canterbury Cathedral Donates Panel to Stained Glass Museum
- Launch of ARCOVE, the Association for the Restoration-Conservation of Stained Glass in Spain
- Bats in Churches LIVE
- The Stained Glass Museum: an update during the (COVID-19) coronavirus outbreak
- BBC documentary Rebuilding Notre-Dame: Inside the Great Cathedral Rescue
- POSTPONED: CVMA Colloquium and Forum, Barcelona 2020
In Memoriam George Wigley
It is with much sadness that we report the passing of our friend George Wigley on April 1st, aged 91.
George led a fascinating life. Born in Milan in 1928 to a British family who had lived there for a number of generations, the arrival of Mussolini and the Second World war suddenly made them into enemy citizens. They were given an ultimatum: an internment camp for the duration of hostilities, or leave. With one suitcase per child they took the train across Europe to Britain and started again. There George attended Burton Grammar School, Burton-on-Trent, and then Manchester University, where after “working far too hard” he graduated with a first class degree in French and Italian.
Deciding not to pursue a career in academia he joined the Airforce and flew Meteors – the first jet fighters in the RAF, as well as Canberra bombers. After leaving the RAF, George spent twenty-five years flying commercial jets, clocking up thousands of hours in the air.
George’s love of stained glass was brought about by a mixture of accident and good fortune. Attending an auction to buy furniture for the family home he shared with his wife Eileen and son Charles, George almost tripped over a panel of glass standing on the floor. With no other significant bidders, the panel, made for the sixteenth-century cloister cycle in Mariawald Abbey, Germany, became the first of a collection to enhance the house (Fig. 2).
This early success kindled a passion that grew from curious amateur to confident collector. Then George decided to take the plunge: with his love of flying beginning to wane, he took early retirement to become a full-time dealer in stained glass, establishing Monastery Stained Glass. He devoted the next thirty-seven years to his business and made friends across the world. Buying, selling and repairing antique panels and commissioned pieces, George gained an enviable reputation and has supplied many major museums and private collections in Europe, America and beyond.
His enthusiasm for chasing glass never dimmed and he was still actively bidding at auction throughout December 2019. Always keen to share his knowledge and enthusiasm, George loved discussing the intricacies of glass, whether patiently explaining aspects of a piece to a novice or debating with fellow experts in the field. He will be missed and fondly remembered by all who knew him.
Due to the current coronavirus restrictions it is not currently possible to have a funeral and celebration of George’s life. Once these restrictions have been lifted one will be arranged, hopefully in the summer.
York Minster Stained Glass Navigator
Just as the Covid-19 crisis drove us all out of York Minster and into the solitude of our own homes, the York Glaziers Trust’s York Minster Stained Glass Navigator became available, ensuring that we can explore some of the Minster’s more important glass from our laptops, tablets and phones.
In recent years, and especially in connection with the conservation of the Minster’s Great East Window, the YGT has invested in high-resolution digital photography and Nick Teed has become a leading specialist in this field. The Minster’s remarkable collection of stained glass is cared for and preserved by a partnership of the Chapter of York, the York Glaziers Trust and the York Minster Fund. The interpretation and understanding of the glass have been significantly enhanced by art historians from the University of York.
While conventional publications have made these outstanding photographs more widely available, this same partnership has come together to make these images accessible online through the Stained Glass Navigator (Figure 1). Viewers can now explore in detail the Great East Window, entering through a new and unprecedented uninterrupted view of the recently-conserved window, taken from the scaffolding erected in 2019 for the conservation of the Great Organ (Figure 2). The St Cuthbert Window, another of the three great windows framing the high altar, can also be explored through a new set of photographs taken in advance of the conservation of the window scheduled to begin in 2021, its extensive and complex narrative elucidated by the recent doctoral research of Dr Katie Harrison. In the forthcoming months additional windows will be added. As the resource develops, an interactive Minster plan will eventually provide the framework for a self-directed tour of the Minster’s windows.
Each window can be entered and explored using a zoom and pan function that draws the viewer deeper into the image. Individual panels can also be called up in high resolution, accompanied by captions that provide an additional level of iconographic information (Figure 4). Designers and developers of the Navigator, Chris Lawson and James Howard, comment on the technical challenges: “The biggest technical challenge was how to display an enormous photograph without expecting users to sit and wait for it to download. The photograph is split into tiles at various resolutions that are dynamically loaded as the user moves around and zooms in to the image of the window. This means the window displays quickly initially, and high-resolution tiles are only loaded when needed.”
The Navigator can be accessed directly using the link: https://stainedglass-navigator.yorkglazierstrust.org or can be entered from the home page of the YGT website: http://www.yorkglazierstrust.org
Creative and Development
First World War Memorial Window Restored
The West window of St Matthew’s Church, Anlaby Road, Hull was removed from the building for safety under emergency measures in 2015, following the closure of the Church for worship in late 2014. The window had previously suffered badly from vandal damage, and was held in storage while the Grade II listed building was offered as a “unique redevelopment opportunity”. In 2018, new owners Giroscope, a housing charity in West Hull, commissioned Barley Studio to restore the window, with support from the War Memorials Trust and The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass.
St Matthew’s Church was built by architects Adams and Kelly of Leeds and consecrated in 1870. The substantial building, with its tower and spire, is an iconic landmark building in the local area (Figure 1), and the West window in particular has great significance to the local community, being a memorial to those who lost their lives during the First World War. The window is a major ensemble, comprising 46 separate panels and measuring approximately 6.5m high and 3.5m wide overall. Made by John Hardman and Company of Birmingham, the window was unveiled and dedicated by the Bishop of Hull on 4 July 1922, along with two tablets listing the names of 138 members of the congregation of St Matthew’s who were killed in the Great War 1914-18. An inscription stone on the outside wall reads “The window above is in memory of our dead through whom we live”.
Barley Studio’s accredited conservator Alison Gilchrist was commissioned to report on the condition and significance of the window while it was still in storage, to inform decisions as to its future. She found that although the window had previously sustained much damage, especially to the lower register lights, a high proportion of original material remained and was in very good condition. Important areas of the imagery, such as the faces of the figures, were all complete and largely intact. The painted detail was in excellent condition, and the leadwork remains strong. All of the surviving glass, paint and lead appear to be original to the window.
Alison also recognised the significance of the window as a war memorial. The lower register of four lights depicts two members of the armed forces, army and navy, in the two centre lights, flanked by four female figures in the outer lights (Figure 2). The female figures are depicted in the manner of the Virgin Mary (to the left) and Mary Magdalene (to the right) at the Crucifixion. Behind each is a female companion acknowledging their suffering, and, by extension in this context, acknowledging the suffering of all those who watched their sons and loved ones go off to war. Placing the servicemen in place of the Crucifixion pays tribute to the ultimate sacrifice made by so many during the Great War.
Angels behind the servicemen gesture upwards towards the depiction of Christ in Majesty in the octofoil window above (Figure 3), showing that their sacrifice has not been in vain. The central circle is surrounded by eight lobes containing musical angels and, at the base, the book of the Apocalypse with its seven seals opened.
With the building under new ownership and funding secured to restore the window, the Barley Studio team set to work. Our philosophy for this conservation–restoration project was to return the window as far as possible to its original appearance, respecting the work of the original artist, while retaining as much of the original material (both glass and lead) as possible. Fractured pieces were edge bonded, where necessary, using CAF3 conservation grade silicone adhesive. Areas of badly broken and holed glass were replaced, where necessary, matching the colours from our extensive banks of glass and grisaille paints. We carried out many tests to match the painted detail and textures as closely as possible. Discreet mending leads were introduced in areas where part of an original piece could be kept but part had to be replaced. All new infills were discreetly signed, dated and documented (Figure 4).
During the project, the Barley Studio team were pleased to welcome representatives from Giroscope to the studio, to see the skills of our glasspainters and glaziers in action (Figures 5 – 7).
The window was successfully reinstalled in the original stonework, following minor repairs by stonemason Andrew Gomersall, in September 2019 (Figure 8). New black powder-coated stainless steel wire guards fixed to the exterior of each opening will protect the window from any future malicious damage.
It has been a privilege to work on this important project for new owners Giroscope, and its careful restoration showcases the skills of Barley Studio’s conservators, artists and craftspeople. We hope that the restored window signals the start of the regeneration of this iconic building, and its future as a central community resource once more.
Canterbury Cathedral Donates Panel to Stained Glass Museum
Canterbury Cathedral’s world-renowned stained glass studio has gifted one of its panels to The Stained Glass Museum.
The gift is of a recent test panel created for the Cathedral’s Damson Window, which was designed by Hughie O’Donoghue RA and made by the Cathedral’s own stained glass studio artist, Grace Ayson in 2018.
The Damson Window, located in the northern walkway of Canterbury Cathedral Cloisters, was made to honour the contributions made over many years to the life of the Cathedral by Richard Oldfield OBE DL. The subject for the window was inspired by a damson tree in the dedicand’s garden. The test panel was beautiful in itself and extremely useful in determining what changes had to be made for the whole window, but because of those changes, it never became part of the finished window. Rather than letting the panel sit unseen in a store, it was offered to The Stained Glass Museum (Fig. 2).
Director and Curator of the museum, Jasmine Allen said “We were delighted to receive this gift from the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral as an example of 21st century stained glass. It is fantastic to add to our growing collection a panel connected to Canterbury Cathedral, which demonstrates a fruitful contemporary collaboration.”
The Stained Glass Museum, located in Ely Cathedral, offers a unique insight into the fascinating history of stained glass, an art form that has been practised in Britain for at least 1300 years. Their permanent gallery displays over 125 stained glass panels representing 800 years of the history of this ancient art, from the thirteenth century to the present day.
The Stained Glass Museum is currently appealing for donations to its ‘Glass Racks Appeal’ with the aim of raising £30,000 to purchase additional storage racks for its growing collection of stained glass. Additional storage will enable the museum to:
• continue to develop its collection through new acquisitions;
• ensure secure protected storage of its collections;
• increase access to its stored collections for researchers, academics and the public through specialised tours and at special events.
For more information about this appeal please visit https://stainedglassmuseum.com/glassracksappeal.html
Launch of ARCOVE, the Association for the Restoration-Conservation of Stained Glass in Spain
A positive piece of news in these dark times is this month’s launch of ARCOVE, the Association for the Restoration-Conservation of Stained Glass in Spain (Fig.1).
After a year and a half of hard work, the President of ARCOVE, Fernando Cortes Pizano, along with the Board, are pleased officially introduce this new organisation to the wider stained glass community. Their intention is to create bridges and links of support and collaboration with the various associations and institutions across the field of stained glass and Conservation, both in Spain and abroad.
The project is born of enthusiasm for learning and concern for the conservation of our stained glass heritage. The idea for ARCOVE was sown in October 2018, during a course on conservation and restoration of stained glass windows, which was held at the School of Historical Heritage of Nájera (Fig. 2), and finally germinated in June 2019. This month, ARCOVE have launched their website, outlining their inclusive vision and objectives.
ARCOVE has diverse and varied objectives, but its core aims are to generate a greater awareness of Spain’s important stained glass heritage, and promote its documentation and study, as well as improvements in the quality of restoration work. To achieve this, they will be working towards the creation of official higher education studies in this field and professional recognition of ARCOVE. Through these activities, they hope to improve the preservation and understanding of this magnificent heritage for future generations.
ARCOVE aims to be a space for dialogue, support and professional collaboration, learning, exchange and dissemination of ideas and knowledge, always based on tolerance and mutual respect. They are keen to welcome all people who are dedicated to the conservation, restoration and study of stained glass, whether professionals or amateurs, at any stage in their career.
ARCOVE are keen to gain the support of the wider stained glass community, to help them achieve their aims. You are invited to visit their website, www.arcove.org and to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Bats in Churches LIVE
Join us on Zoom every Wednesday in May at 13:00 BST for Bats in Churches LIVE, our free online discussion series. Come and chat to our fabulously well-informed, expert guest speakers to delve into the wonderful world of bats and churches. The perfect combo of learning and lunching!
6th May: Britain’s Bat Story
In this event, we’ll take a closer look at bats, the role they play in the ecosystem and how they live. We’ll be looking at how these mammals have fared over the last century and the protection we have in place to help them.
13th May: England’s Church Buildings – Treasure Houses of History
Our panel will explore the importance of the humble parish church looking at architecture, style and use. We will aim to give you some tips on what to look out for when visiting a church and how to make the most of your visit.
20th May: Understanding bats through their DNA
The project is making use of DNA in bat droppings to identify which bat species are using churches, but the study of DNA can help us to learn a lot more than this! We’ll be joined by expert guest speakers to explore current research and the secrets that the bat genome holds.
27th May: The Wonders of Church Wall Paintings
Our panel will explore the imagery of wall paintings, some of the most famous examples, why they were lost after the Reformation, and how they were eventually uncovered and conserved. We will also discuss how we are working with some churches in our project to protect their medieval wall paintings.
For more information, please visit the Bats in Churches website.
The Stained Glass Museum: an update during the (COVID-19) coronavirus outbreak
As many Vidimus readers will be aware, The Stained Glass Museum is currently closed to the public until further notice, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many of our planned activities, workshops and events have been cancelled and those affected have been contacted. The museum’s priority will always be the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers, workshop tutors and of course, our visitors.
As an independent specialist museum and charitable organisation with no regular major sources of grant funding, the present situation is very challenging for us financially. We rely on income from admissions, events, workshops, and shop sales (which collectively account for 80-90% of our total income each year) to care for our collection and pay our staff.
While we are closed, there are several ways you can support us from a distance:
• Make a donation to general funds, or our ongoing Glass racks Appeal
• Join our Friends Organisation
• Make a purchase from our online shop
• Sign up to our mailing list to keep up-to-date through e-news
During this temporary closure, we are operating on a reduced capacity with fewer staff members. However, we will continue to share our collection online through our website and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). We encourage you to read and share our posts. Where possible, we will be sharing education resources and ideas for those now educating their children from home.
We look forward to welcoming our visitors back to the Museum as soon as we can. Thank you for your continued support.
Trustees & Staff of The Stained Glass Museum
BBC documentary Rebuilding Notre-Dame: Inside the Great Cathedral Rescue
Vidimus readers may be interested in the BBC’s recent documentary Rebuilding Notre-Dame: Inside the Great Cathedral Rescue, if they have not already had chance to watch it. The documentary recounts the damage caused by the fire on 15 April 2019, and traces the complex and challenging work which has taken place over the past year to stabilise and safeguard this magnificent building. Of particular interest to Vidimus readers will be the insights provided into the conservation of the stained glass. Claudine Loisel reveals her work to identify the extent of lead contamination across the glass surfaces and develop a cleaning strategy. She also discusses her identification of micro cracks, caused by thermal stress, which will require stabilisation using adhesives. The search for innovative methods of protecting the glass takes the programme to York Minster, where newly-developed UV-filtering protective glazing is being installed on an unprecedented scale.
The documentary is available to watch on BBC iPlayer until 15thMay.
POSTPONED: CVMA Colloquium and Forum, Barcelona 2020
Due to the current international situation with the Covid-19 virus, the decision has been made to postpone the CVMA Colloquium and Forum that was to be held in Barcelona in July.
Although there is a chance that we may overcome the pandemic before July, there is still the issue of restrictions on movement to consider for many of the members of the international organization. Therefore, the decision of postponement has been brought forward so that the cancellation of flights and hotel bookings can be carried out.
The organisers apologize for this disappointing news, but their priority is to give colleagues clarity on the situation at this challenging time and to safeguard their health.
The 30th International Colloquium of the Corpus Vitrearum will now be held from the 5th to the 8th July 2021, and the Forum for the Conservation and Technology of Historic Stained Glass will be celebrated from the 8th to the 10th of July 2021. For more information, please visit the website.