Thursday, August 16, 2012

Stained Glass : A Forgotten Art Form


Stained Glass Wonders : A Forgotten Art Form

Image by : Ish Maelo
 Stained glass windows have long been associated with religion, but as we have embraced other forms of art such as oil painting and sculpture, stained glass is still very much inaccessible to the general public.
So why have we not embraced this beautiful craft in other walks of life?

A Religious Upbringing
In Europe, the art of stained glass reached its height between 1150 and 1500 when it was a popular addition to many buildings and, adorned with important religious iconography, it often acted as a focus point for prayer and worship.
In religious based stained glass, inspirational images depict disciples and other important cultural figures. The iconography of light as a binary opposition of evil has helped cement the stained glass window firmly in the culture of many strands of Christianity.
“I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay their foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.”
Isaiah 54:11-12
To theologians in the medieval ages, the images of saints amongst others depicted in the windows were brought to life by God’s presence, light itself.
Sainte Chapelle, or the ‘Holy Chapel’ in France was commissioned by King Louis IX of France and houses one of Christianities most important relics, the crown of thorns.  It is fitting that such a beautiful monument encompasses this important symbol of Christianity and shows the stature and cultural significance that stained glass still has in modern religion.

A Tradition and an Art
The process of making stained glass is a complex one, powdered metals are added to molten glass, giving them distinct colouring. This method of adding powdered metals to create colour is also one used in fireworks displays. For example, copper compounds are used to create the colour blue.

Making a Comeback
The Glass Windows of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in the Netherlands are actually constructed from hundreds of screen shots from Dutch television programmes. The pictures have been blended in an abstract style to give its unique aesthetic and it is one of the best examples of modern stained glass design.

Image by: Lauren Manning

A Degree of Respect

Stained-Glass Window Studies at the Swansea Institute was mocked in the Daily Mail, ironically the same newspaper berating students for choosing to go to university instead of taking more practical avenues into employment.
Other arts are regarded as great works of craftsmanship, why is stain glass production anything less than an art form? It’s one we must remember and one that we can treasure by exploring both its past and its future, hopefully in an abundance of new architecture.
We should be celebrating the passing on of an ancient art form from one generation to the next, not mocking it.


Dan Izzard writes articles for Eurocell, who provide an extensive range of windows and composite doors for your home.



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