Tag Archives: john piper

Stained glass – art or architecture?

Most people automatically think of windows when you mention stained glass to them.

Stained glass in an ecclesiastical setting

John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens' stained glass for Liverpool Cathedral
John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens’ stained glass for the Lantern, Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

That’s a natural response – Europe’s greatest cathedrals and churches offer some outstanding examples of the art of glass – York Minster’s huge 16th century Rose Window, through to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral’s 20th century John Piper Lantern glass.

And on a more domestic scale, renewed interest in the period features that distinguish British homes from the Victorian and Edwardian eras has served as a reminder of the pleasure that stained glass can bring to our personal environments.

Even 21stcentury public spaces are exploiting the combination of glass and light to enhance environments and lift spirits – like Underhill Circus inOxford.

Coloured and illuminated glass at Underhill Circus, Oxford
Coloured and illuminated glass at Underhill Circus, Oxford

But these are examples of stained glass used in an architectural context.

What about stained glass art for the home?

Stained glass art can have an impact in a domestic setting unlike that of 2d art.
The way the glass interacts with the light in a space, the way the combination of glass and light changes as the light in a room varies throughout the day provides a changing backdrop.

Leaving aside the way the eyes of a portrait appear to follow one around a room, this is a quality unique to glass art!

And these days, many glass artists are experimenting with lighting techniques, especially low-voltage LEDs, to add extra fascination and beautiful effects after dark. Stained glass today has become a centre of innovation and creativity in the UK art scene.

Indeed, as modern stained glass creators, Vitreus Art’s ‘trademark’ is Glass Art Light – reflecting our interest in those qualities stained glass offers the art lover – on a scale suited to modern homes and public spaces, and with a contemporary and often abstract feel.

And a further attraction of stained glass art for many art lovers is the uniqueness inherent  – each piece is hand-made, and always original.
There are no limited edition prints or mass-produced series with stained glass – you’ll own a piece created individually – whether you commissioned it yourself or spotted it in a local gallery.

We at Vitreus Art hope you get to enjoy the combination of Glass, Art & Light in your home, as well as admiring the contribution stained glass has made to our great churches and public buildings through the ages.

We’d love to hear about your favourite examples of stained glass – public or private, architectural or domestic.

What got you started in art?

When we’re out and about, teaching, demonstrating, doing Open Studios or selling at craft markets, we’re often asked – what got you started in stained glass?

Well, for Jenny, my partner in crime over at Vitreus Art, she found an artistic interest while watching her Grandfather painting with oils and making detailed models from scratch.

She subsequently attended St Albans art college; becoming a mum sadly put such frivolities on hold for some years.

Although Jenny sketched from time to time, being a busy mum and PR professional didn’t afford time to find a real niche and pursue it.

Then, while on holiday in Porthleven in Cornwall we happened across the work of a stained glass artist who sadly has moved from the area. But we both loved the colours, the simple sea themes and the light effects the pieces created in the gallery.

Returning home, we booked ourselves on to a one-day stained glass workshop to find out how hard it would be to create our own pieces.

In the meantime, I discovered the work of John Piper, the artist who created

Baptistry Window, Coventry Cathedral, by John Piper

the beautiful abstract glass for the lantern at the  Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and the 76ft-high Baptistry Window at Coventry Cathedral.

You can see examples of the glass at both of these fabulous 20th century architectural marvels at John Piper’s website.

I worked in theatre lighting on leaving college, and I’ve always been fascinated with creating coloured and textured light effects. As a comparative youngster, I never got the chance to really test out my imagination, but the passion persisted!

6 years later, we’re now teaching, helping prospective glass artists get started, and we’ve just finalised the plans for our own 5-day workshop in Porthleven, where our passion started!

Do leave a comment and tell us how you got started in art, or what inspires you – share the passion!

Season’s greetings,