On a Qest..

I told you in my previous post about my year of scholarship… and learning and immersing myself in my subject. 

The other day I did a road trip to my local locale with my mentor deb. And this morning I feel humbled and in complete awe….Stained glass​,​ my chosen medium. 

Stained glass in an ecclesiastical setting is just a whole ‘nother level​!​

On our pilgrimage we chanced upon parishioners, church wardens, vicars and lay people. Local produce for sale. Local notices. Local names. Local knowledge. The history and stories contained within these buildings was so very grounding. It was a privilege, as well as an unexpected pleasure, to meet the protectors and preservers of these special places. 

In Natland the work of Kendal stained glass artist ​S​arah Sutton. Beautiful figurative windows capturing motherhood and humanity. Standing alongside older works that remembered families and faces lost in ​the ​war. Such a proud sense of community found here. 

What a start! 

From there to Cartmel Priory. Immediately from the outside I was struck by its presence and scale. How it sits so fine. And then we entered. Oh my. Why (to my knowledge) have I never been inside here before. (Exclaim)

Cartmel priory is a place of such peace and calm, majesty and beauty. Cathedral type proportions. Illuminated soft warm stone. The carvings and colour were exquisite.. I felt like I was in a foreign place. Was this really Cumbria? Victorian glass competing with mediaeval glass. Absolutely stunning all of it. And once again we attracted stories from helpers within.. the vicar telling us of how he is trying to think of ideas to get people back into churches.. for the sense of spirituality and belonging. He fears it will become lost. Another gentleman drew our attention to the glass and statues and how some was lost to the Roundheads during the reformation. Decapitated statues and stories of hung drawn and quartered monks. (What a history we have eh) And how some treasures were secreted to local smaller churches to protect them and preserve… why a monk from Cartmel can be found in Cartmel fell perhaps!

Cartmel Fell church is a beautiful wee gem. I’ve visited here a number of times. And now I begin to understand maybe why this little church has such beautiful medieval glass. Perhaps this​ t​ucked away modest jem has always been a place of sanctuary. 

From there to Bowness (but alas we couldn’t get parked!).. so onto ​T​routbeck and ​S​taveley to view the William Morris gems that I have clapped eyes on before…But would be new to debs!

I will always be blown away by these jewels. As was Deb. They are something else. I have heard that these two parishes competed with each other to have William Morris windows… ​”​if it’s good enough for… then we must have it too!!​”​​.. I don​’​t know if th​e ​tale is true…Either way​,​ we are fortunate to have such gems so close together (and so close to me!)

Deb asked​,​​’​did I have a favourite​?’​

I’m not sure. But…

Maybe I do. 

Or maybe that star studded sky that takes you to heaven was just the prefect way to end our day. 

Peace and a good long sit down gazing upon it. 

Boy did we need a cup of tea after all that. 

Staggered. 

Mind blown. 

Humbled and in absolute awe. 

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I just want to be the best glass lass that I can be…

So there I was. A happy glasser at my bench. A healthy business at dc stained glass studio there in Kendal.. My bright lights and pretty colours drawing folks in… and filling my order book. A constant roll … of work and home. Pull out the ideas and put the bread on the table!

Mmm. Do I sound less than content there? I should. As I had started to have thoughts about something different… maybe a new journey .. a different challenge. I knew I loved glass. But. I wanted to take control over where my work was taking me. (Yikes). But also (crikey) Provide the bread… but get some sp a c e. (Don’t ask for much do I !)

I had an idea. 

Or I should say. An idea presented itself to me.. I explored the option of doing an hnc in art glass at Glasgow city college. Excellent! Excitement!! Couple of nights a week in the bright lights of a B I. G city. Ah. But how do I fund that? (I look at my table and my bread…)

I secured my place on the Glasgow course. And. I explored funding and discovered QEST. 

The Queen Elizabeth scholarship trust. They stand for everything that I aspire to. The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) supports the training and education of talented and aspiring craftspeople through traditional college courses, vocational training, apprenticeships and one-to-one training with a master craftsperson; helping to support Britain’s cultural heritage and sustain vital skills in traditional and contemporary crafts. And their funding application timeline was just perfect timing. 

The application procedure was thorough and rigorous. Questions. Questions. And references. References. And in completing their questions I found my answers. ..

I discovered (big drum roll)… that I wanted to be the best glass lass that I could be. I wanted to learn. I wanted to discover. I wanted to experiment. Stretch myself.

Or at least try. 

Anyway. The glass class in Glasgow got cancelled. B u t my plan b (as I call it) will be even better. 

The QEST application process had led me to ask questions of myself and seek advice from lots of lovely colleagues and friends who I have met on my 15 year journey with glass. It filled me with confidence and belief that in glass  I had found my medium. But also. Maybe that I could take my glass further. 

Anyway long story short (really)(I do go on don’t I)… I won my scholarship funding. And I have a year planned chock full of exciting things. 

All sorts of things are going to happen. Things I don’t even know about yet. I think. 

It has started already. See, part of the funding is to complete a professional development program. with Cockpit Studios in London. … I was a little unsure about this. (I mean… am I going to make myself too busy!)

But it’s brilliant! Inspiring! Energising! Probing. Questioning and… ach. Challenging. But in a gentle, useful way. Zoom meetings (get me) with fellow scholars. Who I discover are not scary (I worried).. but are just like me. In that I mean they are all on a quest. Of self discovery and improvement. It’s just …

Well. It’s a new journey. At times overwhelming but mostly, thrilling. 

My plan b … ?

You want to know about my plan b ?

Well. It’s started. 

I have got a year’s mentoring with the lovely Deborah Lowe from Todmorden. I met Deb a few years ago on a visit to Pendle Stained Glass, when David, another kind friend, allowed me to shadow some of his workers at his busy working studio. Pendle work on big ecclesiastical projects and I found the visits inspiring. So. When I needed help to see how to get to the next level I remembered these visits and Deborah and David were both so useful in clearing my thoughts and showing me a direction. 

I’ve had two sessions now with Debs. I visited her in her studio at Todmorden and absorbed her environment and how she works. We chatted and chatted about the things we will do. Visits to sites of amazing glass. Experiments we will undertake working to Albinus Elskus’s bible to painting on glass !..

Then Deb visited me… and we discussed my projects… looked at my space… (she liked it!!) and then we dove in and had some fun with paint. 

Deb uses words like deeper and darker… and phrases like ‘your glass will be around for a hundred(s) of years’… meaning … get it right! At the painting stage. Paint and fire until the painting is right. 

I think I always think, get it right at the design stage so you cut glass only once. Which mostly I do. And I paint and fire. Mostly only once. 

But now she’s got me thinking. Deeper and darker. There’s a way to go eh.

Here. My painting experiment..

A Man Ray book presented itself to me in my local Oxfam window just minutes after planning debs visit to mine. Deep and dark. Perfect. 

We chose an image and daubed paint swiftly (time was tight)… and fired once. 

I looked afterwards and thought I want to play more with this. I went deeper and darker and fired twice. 

Such fun! (I really do love painting on glass)

Debs will be back. Next time we will visit churches. Look at masterful projects. This stained glass stuff… it’s been around for hundreds of years… And I will share here with you, my love of it. (here, pics from a recent jolly to Underbarrow Church…. think i’d like to have a go at hands and feet!)

My Qest scholarship, as well as funding the years Mentoring with Deborah Lowe, will also fund two painting masterclasses. One block in September with Jonathan Cooke at Swansea Architectural Glass Centre and another block with Surinder Warboys at her home studio in Suffolk in May of next year. Oh and my favourite Life Drawing classes with Catherine McDermid at my local Kendal Brewery Arts Centre will also be supported.

Wow. What an exciting year ahead I have planned.

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High Lights.. you may have missed…

What a busy old year or so….

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The Hayloft, Brantwood

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Lady Godiva

It started with … “I’m not sure what you’re gonna say about this but…..I’d like Lady Godiva in my front door!”

Tell me more, I said.

(I mean, we’ve all heard about her riding naked through the streets on a horse… some of us may even know it was Coventry… some have heard about the peeping Tom. But I, had not remembered the why, of the why she did it).

My customer regaled me with the fabulous tale of her doing it as an act of rebellion against her husband raising the taxes against the poor of the city.

Wow. A heroine. My interest was piqued.

This story was true. Godiva’s husband, Leofric, Earl of Mercia was imposing large taxes on his poor tenants and she did not think this fair. He said he would waiver the tax if she were to ride naked through the streets. The Lady Godiva agreed but ordered everyone to be off the streets and be behind shuttered windows. This was so, apart from the one person who peeped!.

And here also starteth the legend of the original peeping Tom!

What a story.

What a woman.

But why want it in stained glass?

Well, I’m from Coventry.

(Of course!)

And of course, I was so tickled by all of this that I said I would have a go.

So, I doodled all kinds of compositions. I wanted to capture this bold woman, naked but covered, proud and upright. Standing up for peoples rights. But also, include other details such as shuttered street… peeping tom…city skyline… three spires.

You’re trying too hard Deb, said a friend, after umpteen attempts.

And so I returned to the famous Lady Godiva painting by John Collier.

Do this, he said.

I looked afresh. It was a striking painting. Beautifully composed…. The limbs.. and the red cloth…. But the proportions did not work for my window.

In the end I invented my own backdrop and included a few other geographical features.

I took the ruins of Coventry Cathedral and using a lot of draughtsman’s licence, planted the three spires of Coventry beyond.

I did think of using tracery on top of tracery on top of tracing(!) as a solution to the lead lines, but in the end decided that the strong red cloth was too important and went with a pictorial technique.

Oh what fun I had trying to replicate that wonderful painting.

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Green Door Art Trail….

This weekend…. Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th of September.

I am open 10am – 5 pm at 11 Allhallows Lane, Kendal, LA9 4JJ

Be lovely to see you….

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An ‘oliday…

Just when the rest of Kendal is opening up…. sorry, but I go on H oliday. (12th April)

I’ll be back. Don’t worry…

And I’ll be open most of the time… especially for you by appointment!

You will find me most times there anyway, but often, I work elsewhere too. (Its how it is!)

So please, just give me a shout if you really really want to catch me…

Look forward to seeing you…(I am only on holiday ’til the 19th April… that’s not long is it!)

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One year.

One year. Yep. One o’ these years…

One o’ those years. 2 0 2 0 . The one we all thought was going to be crystal clear. (Or I did). And maybe it was. Maybe it is time for world wide change and maybe 2020 made us ready.

Strangely, I have had a good year. Ok some things have been strange. But strangely enough those strange things made me appreciate the not so strange. And I have been no stranger. There are barely any strange bits left in my locale so well have I combed it. But stranger still…I k n o w there are still lots of strange and new things out there for me too. Strange. Ha. And I like it. I am made ready.

So. One year on… and a further call to us artists of Cumbria. What have we been up to?

In May we submitted artwork for a book..’Through the locking glass” and it was a remarkable and uplifting publication. You can see my documenting of it in an earlier post… ‘Through the think in’ glass’.

Here now, one year on and I have worked on through faith, hope and charity and rolled with f a t e , h o l e and l i b e r t e (the french one!) And these three words, these three ideas, were the starting point for my one year on submissions.

So. In the stranglehold of 100 words per piece i take you through my workings in pictures as well as few words….

Faith Hope and Charity were what I kept coming back to on my early solo lockdown runs. Recurring themes within my field of stained glass. ‘Through the think in’ glass was my reaction to those early fears and restrictions and the new learning how to be.

But the year got stranger and government restrictions gave me further time to swim, run, pause, think and read, as well as continue to work, often behind closed doors.

Faith, Hope and Charity developed into Fate, Hole and Liberte… which reflects and rolls with me better. (Blame Murakami. A Japanese writer)

 And so we arrive at one year on….

Faith has turned to Fate for my artwork. And to represent it I used those most superstitious of birds, the magpie. The monochrome arrangement of the seven birds fell together by chance (!) during a streamed lock-in Friday night drawing session. (When did Friday nights become this !?) The leadlines represent the junctions and decisions thrown at us in life. And the orbs of colour being just that. Orbs of colour within our life.

Hope becomes Hole. And hole represents a safe, reflective space. Not so much a hole as more of a nest. Home perhaps; or the space or locale in which we have all spent more time of late, in thought. Going with the roll within our confines.

And nest egg brings us to charity…..

And charity brings Liberte… One year on, this is where I’d like to be. Free, strong, happy and brave to seize the choices that normal life presents. Starlings and clear blue sky used here. I think this panel is the optimistic sun rise that I just watched on the first day of 2021. See those loose and bold leadlines, like the free-handed daub from a broad brush.

I am Debbie Copley of dc stained glass studio on Allhallows Lane in Kendal. Sat beneath that town hall clock, (which at present is stopped!). Kendal has been a good place to be.

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Broken. But not beaten.

I usually say no to restoration. But these, this pair, they had something.

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Maybe it was the beautiful soft colour palette…. or the wonderful limed oak frames….but i think most likely it was that darn happy sun.

Just look at it. Who could resist. I wish I had made that. Such striking colours and confident simple painting. It just makes me smile.

So of course I said. ok i will have a go at this…. I mean it seemed like there were only one or two wee broken bits and you could kinda reimagine what might be in the big gaping hole in the centre of one of the panels…. Yeah, I can fix that said I.

So my work mate took it out of the frame with much cussing and huffing… this putty is harder than hard he grumbled and yet, it still smelt fresh of linseed. Obviously very old quality stuff, (he was enjoying himself really).

Once out, the task ahead of me became realised. The border lead was some strange ‘U’ section zinc stuff that would not be retainable as to desolder would result in it becoming mangled beyond reuse…. O K i will just strip down the damaged areas thought I. Do a bit of patching.

Then it became my turn to have a meltdown and a grumble… the task in front of me just seemed huge. And filthy. And broken. And difficult. And… oh, what have I started!!!

At the end of the first day I had taken two wax crayon rubbings and stripped down 2/3 of the panel. I felt overwhelmed by it and telegraphed my concerns to the owner.

I think I probably tossed and turned and huffed and puffed throughout that following night, but… at the bench the next day. I was on it. I can do this, I said to myself. (Sleep… or not much of it… is an amazing thing!)

Very methodically I began to clean up the un broken pieces… mark up and preserve what needed recutting. And slowly built up a working drawing.

A p l a n . A place to work from.

In the end i stripped down the whole panel apart from the wee smiley sun. It deserved to be left in tact and the rest deserved to be put back good and strong. By the end of this second long long day I was happy. Some glass had been recut and colour matched to a working working plan and the remainder could be managed tomorrow….

What a great feeling. I had felt broken…. but, I was not yet sunk.

Oh yes, I haven’t told you… The other half of the matching pair, with the gallant galleon and the latin motto….

FLVCTVAT NEC MERGITVR….

I typed it into google…. it means… broken but not beaten. And literally translates as ‘wave tossed but not sunken’…..It is the motto of the city of Paris. It literally means… ‘she is tossed by the waves, but she will never sink’.

Oh my. How could I not succeed to rebuild this panel with such resounding words in front of me.

And here, for the first time in my life it seems, we are really caught up in a world wide melt down. Crikey, I had to save this panel. Flipping heck, I want to live the rest of my life chanting this darn motto.

(Sorry about the am’ drams’… but I was due a holiday!).. Anyway, i got all the glass colour matched, preserved and cut… and then had the wonderful task of re-imagining the missing pieces with paint. There were clues. But enough blank space to make me scratch my head and keep me on my toes.

Someone said, that must be very satisfying.

And I have rethunk on the word satisfying. I think it thought i did not want ‘satisfying’…

But it was. And I am. More than.

This has been a very satisfying (!) job. I have loved it. (I did not think it. and it wasn’t always so… ha. my melt down!)(one day at a time, eh)

BVT…. the satisfaction of putting this back together, reinstating it in its lovely oak frame…and standing it alongside its pair (my work mate says they are french.. the handles are definitely french he said)…. I wonder what kind of journey these windows have been on…?

I wonder…. Now here they are. Putty drying. In my workshop window (I think this putty is going to take a while to harden!)

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E7 #9 Purple Haze

So I been wanting to paint the face of an angel…

(I say again… ‘careful what you wish for eh!’)

So here we have it.. a 70th birthday… a famous chord….

and a face.    E7 #9

Simple as….IMG_2061

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