Reading Stained Glass: Easter Day by Adrian Barlow

These days most people, if they associate Coventry with stained glass at all, think of John Piper’s great Baptistry window. And rightly, for it was the first, and I believe remains the finest, modern abstract window in any British cathedral. But the city has a distinguished tradition of stained glass, going back to the 15th century, when John Thornton was the pre-eminent English stained glass artist. He and his workshop created the enormous East window of York Minster, while at the same time continuing to fill the churches of Coventry with stained glass promoting the city as a place of culture, wealth and civic pride. Much of this celebrated glass adorned St Michael’s Church, the former Cathedral, until hurriedly taken out and stored as loose fragments in 1939 when war loomed. Unlike the Cathedral itself, most survived the war, but only recently has the scale and importance of this forgotten treasure begun to be appreciated again. Some of the glass has already been restored and a small amount is on display in the …

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Reading Stained Glass: Good Friday by Adrian Barlow

When I was a child, I was fascinated by a picture that hung in my father’s study. It was (as I learned much later) a Baxter Print of Rubens’ Descent from the Cross, (1612-14; fig.i) and I wish I had it now, for images of the Deposition – its alternative name – have a long history in stained glass, going back at least to the 12th century. None, though, are quite like Rubens’ altarpiece. Rubens’ tableau has no fewer than five men, four ladders, three women, and the magnificently athletic but pallid corpse of the dead Jesus being lowered into the arms of John, the beloved disciple. To help take the backbreaking strain, St. John has placed his right foot onto the second rung of a ladder. In accordance with tradition, he is dressed in a red robe, while Mary is already in deep mourning. Joseph of Arimathea, swathed in a huge cloak and wearing a red bonnet, looks more like a Venetian magnifico than a member of the Sanhedrin. He holds one end …

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Reading Stained Glass: Maundy Thursday by Adrian Barlow

The first of three posts discussing ways in which the events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day have been depicted in stained glass from the 12thcentury onwards.I am interested in the different ways stained glass artists have portrayed Judas. Sometimes he is shown almost as a pantomime figure – black faced, even black haloed – clutching a moneybag. In the E window of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, the Last Supper (1874; fig. i) is cast in an almost lurid light: yellow and black tiled floor, benches even brighter than the brass dishes on the table.  Around this table Jesus and the twelve disciples form a tight circle. Jesus sits in the centre, St John, the beloved disciple, leaning his head on Christ’s right shoulder; St Peter, tonsured according to tradition, sits on his left. The faces of the twelve, offset by the whiteness of their haloes, are variously perplexed, apprehensive or reflective. With one exception: Judas, the man in green with his back to us, has no halo. Scowling and with …

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Conservation strategy discussion for Winchester Cathedral stained glass fragments

Stained Glass Studio – Where the Magic Happens

Recently, Michael Strong, the Abbey Museum’s Senior Curator and I headed north to Belli Park to meet with stained glass conservators Gerry Cummins and Jill Stehn. Gerry and Jill have been involved with the Museum’s stained glass conservation program for over ten years now. These two extraordinarily talented artisans have been responsible for the conservation of nearly all of the Museum’s medieval, Victorian and Edwardian stained glass collection.

As you may be aware, in 2017 we completed the conservation of all the stained glass windows housed in the Abbey Church. These windows include medieval panels from Winchester Cathedral and also the mortuary chapel of the Shirley family manor house in Ettington. There is a splendid panel of God the Father, believed to be from the Charter House of St Barbara in Cologne and a very fine Winged Ox and a Winged Lion from Heckenrode Abbey in Belgium. If you would like to have a tour of these beautiful windows the Abbey Museum runs guided tours on Tuesday and Thursday at 11.00 am or for groups …

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Stained Glass presentation in Abbey Church

Celebrating a Stained Glass Milestone

Invited guests – donors who had supported the program – gathered in the Abbey Church in early December to help celebrate the conclusion of a ten year project of conservation of the stained glass windows in the Church.

Stained Glass Thank You

Director of the Abbey Museum, Edith Cuffe OAM, explained the obstacles which had to be overcome in order for the conservation project to be undertaken, not least of which was the substantial fundraising effort required. The presentation was a ‘thank-you’ and acknowledgement of those who donated or assisted in other ways to raise the funds necessary for the conservation work to take place. Edith introduced guests to Gerry Cummins and Jill Stehn, the conservators who undertook this mammoth task.

Conservator’s stained glass presentation

Gerry’s presentation included a power-point showing before and after photographs of each window as it was subject to the conservator’s attention. He told how the removal of some windows was made very difficult because of the age of the glass and fragility of the …

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Stained glass windows conservation – a staff excursion.

Earlier this month, a convoy of cars with Abbey staff made its way to visit our most recent stained glass windows conservation project at the Master Craftsman’s workshop in Buderim. Stained glass artists, Gerry Cummins and Jill Stehn, have been our conservators of choice for over ten years. Their original artworks can be found in many Australian churches and buildings as well as examples of their conservation projects.

We were welcomed at the door with huge grins of delight. Greetings over, we made our way into their workshop. This is a remarkable large room filled with long light boxes set in rows and forming aisles between. On those boxes lay stained glass windows at various stages of development or repair.

Creating a Stained Glass window

Gerry took us through the wonders of creating a stained glass window. It is always an intense pleasure to watch someone who seriously knows what they are doing, making it all look so very easy. The creation of any artwork begins with an idea. The application of pencil to paper is the first step …

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stained glass fragments featuring a scourger in the Abbey Museum collection

Stained Glass Funding Success

The Abbey Museum staff are having a “pom-pom” moment!! What is that you may ask? Well, it is the way we celebrate when great things happen, those unexpected successes or some very good news. And we have just received some VERY GOOD NEWS. Late last year we applied to the Copland Foundation for funding for the conservation of nine of our medieval stained glass windows from our collection. Last week we received notification that our application was successful!!! Definitely a “pom-pom” moment!!

Why are we so very excited? Well it is because when we started fundraising for the conservation of the medieval and Victorian stained glass collection, over ten years ago, we had to raise a massive $165,000. For our small and predominately volunteer organisation that seemed a daunting task. However, through the generous donation of many wonderful individual donors who have funded the conservation of specific windows and through the fundraising efforts of the Abbey Museum Friends, who with the assistance of a grant from the Regional Arts Development …

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Restoring the Glory – Stained Glass Restoration

I love stained glass windows… the colour, the details, the vibrancy of the stories are simply inspiring. The stained glass windows in the Abbey Museum collection are some of my favourite objects. That is why I was so excited to take a group of our staff and volunteers to the studio of leading conservators Gerry Cummins and Jill Stehn near Eumundi who are currently undertaking conservation of three of our windows which are usually housed in the Abbey Church.

What an amazing opportunity to see and hear not only how these ancient windows are conserved, but also the traditional method of manufacture, especially in the Middle Ages.

On welcoming us to their studio, which is like an Aladdin’s cave of coloured glass, paints, brushes and colouring pencils, Gerry talked about the difference between leadlight windows and stained glass. They are currently creating an amazing leadlight window to be installed in the large Baptistry in St Monica’s Cathedral in Cairns. Leadlight windows, I learnt, are made of pieces of coloured glass which are joined together with lead strips …

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Even medieval stained glass windows need a make-over!

I recently explained to my husband, having spent a tidy sum on getting my hair done, that it costs more to stay beautiful as you get older.  And I promptly reminded him that as the famous TV ad slogan stated  ‘we’re worth it!’.   Like a lot of us folk in museums near Brisbane, the collection of  Medieval Stained Glass  at the Abbey Museum isn’t getting any younger either!

The Abbey Church

You might recall the Medieval Stained Glass post we presented recently.  It spoke about the Abbey church and the Gregorian Chanting highlight of our Abbey Medieval Festival.  The essential charisma of the extraordinary beauty of the stained glass in the Abbey Church can also be experienced during the knighting ceremony prior to the Medieval festival.  this magical ambiance with candlelight, chanting, costumes and spiritual peace  combine to facilitate a unique transformation into life in medieval times. This unique experience takes place every year before Christmas.

However, on a practical level, …

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Medieval Stained Glass and Museum Group Tour for Adults

Experience the beauty of our medieval stained glass windows in the breathtaking Abbey Church.

Be in awe with a guided tour of medieval, Edwardian and Victorian Stained Glass in the Abbey Church.  You won’t see anything like this in the Southern Hemisphere! Self guided tour of the  Abbey Museum archaeological gallery, a journey through the history of humankind The Museum is air-conditioned and has wheelchair access. It is an easy walk for people with mobility issues and bus companies can drop off at the front door. Comfortably holds up to 100 adults.

Group admission: $8.50 pp (minimum 15)

Morning tea and lunch available on request. (minimum 20)

Morning Tea: Tea, Coffee and Cake/Slices $6.00 pp or Tea, Coffee and biscuits $4.00 pp

Lunch :  2 courses – cold meat, salad AND dessert plus tea and coffee  $18.50 pp

Groups may also bring their own morning tea and there is a covered area with tables and chairs available (by prior arrangement)..

(For any Stained Glass tours we ask for a Gold Coin donation pp.  This goes directly to …

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