‘A village with a church in the valley of the River Kent..’

Have you been following my progress…?

Well. It’s finished. It’s in. (My Church window).. and I really couldn’t be any prouder.

What I pictured…. what I wanted to achieve… well, I feel i did it.

That lovely Kendal townscape as a backdrop to that tapestry of colour…And the detail i was really pleased with, (thanks to the skills learnt on my glass course at Swansea with Jonathan Cooke)… was how i held the light using a final oil layer of paint on the townscape outside of the golden cross. (I worried in the workshop that I had made the old town too dark. But that isn’t the case) The golden cross with its lighter more transparent areas of paint just glows like a strong shaft of light, right down through the window. And the grey areas sit beautiful and flat in comparison.

And once all the panels were leaded up and cemented to make them waterproof, I let them dry and set then polished and polished before sending them off to Lee at Furness Glass, to get encapsulated within double glazed units.

At the end of April my brother, Duncan Copley, began preparing the window. It needed some rotten areas sorting out, the beadings trimming to accommodate the deeper units and redecorating. We were lucky with the weather. Fitting them, watching them go in, and take shape was a grand day.

Throughout each stage of the build, (leadwork after glass painting!)… I was only ever able to really see two panels alongside each other at a time. 4 at a push with artificial light.

So it was pretty staggering for me to watch my brother carefully put these into place.

We startled the reverend who had come in to ‘count the chairs’! And every now and then someone else would come and pop their head in…. the guy from the bible shop… the lady who had leant me the tea towel.. (to inform some of my painting detail of the presbyterian old church)…it was really great. A new friend even came and played her fiddle…”I want to play a tune for your window” she said.

On Sunday May 14th the window recieved its ‘dedication’. Which is really the acknowledging of its existence within the worship space…. in the context of a church service. It was a very good day, and I am really very grateful to Rita Hogarth for sponsoring this project in memory of her late husband. And extremely grateful for the trust that the United Reformed Church at 106 Highgate placed in me.

This really has been my best job (so far!)…

Below are a few words about some of the details in the window. The Church requested them of me so that they can put some information alongside. It’s only a guide though. Folks can read their own stories into this window, as indeed they already are and I quite like that.

The leaded window was commissioned to represent a new beginning for 106 Highgate within the new worship space. It sits gently and offers somewhere upon which to rest your eyes.

‘A village with a church in the valley of the river kent’… was the inspiration for the design and it comes from the old name for Kendal – ‘Kirkby kendal’. 

The window has many different layers and in the grand tradition of ecclesiastical windows the picture also tells a story. 

The hand painted detail, although imagined, feels familiar and gives a comforting sense of place. From the distant Kentmere hills to the tumbling rooftops and houses that spiral down the steep valley sides, to the flowing river Kent at its base. 

The lead lines which form the structure of the panels are overlapping cross and fish motifs; the logo of the United reformed church and strong Christian symbols. Woven together in different sizes they create a rich tapestry of colour and texture. 

A huge golden cross emerges from these crisscrossing shapes creating a strong shaft of light that beams down into the town and community in which it is firmly rooted. 

The window was built not only to represent this new beginning but also as a tribute to the life of Alan Hogarth from his wife Rita. 

There are two churches pictured in the window and both were important buildings in the spiritual lives of Alan and Rita. The lower right is the Presbyterian church which no longer exists and that once stood on Sandes Avenue. The other, middle left is the old United Reformed Church and if you look through the transparent top reaches of this new window you can catch a glimpse of the old church architecture for real.

Look carefully again at the spire of the old Presbyterian church where it punctuates the middle right panel and tucked behind it, in the streets, you will see the distinctive crisscross iron facade and swinging shop sign of ‘Hogarth’s Jewellers. This was Alan Hogarth’s family business, which this year celebrated its 100th anniversary. 

The symbols at the bottom, by way of a hallmark, offer further dedication to Alan. They represent his keen love of badminton, the Hogarth’s business logo and the bible. 

The small cross on the hill, up above the houses, is from the artists imagination. And was placed there purely as acknowledgement of the great sense of importance she felt for this symbol from the congregation at 106 Highgate, as she was creating the window. 

And. I am really loving these little souvenirs. Big thanks to my friend John Leech photography for capturing and supplying this image.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

To draw upon glass

A labour of love said my friend Jane.  (of my church window project).

Ha. And plainly speaking. It can be.  This window building…..

I think again on why I started this year of improvement… enrichment…And I think perhaps of that too… a labour ​o​f love. 

And of course my scholarship mentoring and masterclasses have coincided with my getting the largest commission of my glass career. And I hesitate to write ‘so far’. 

Uncertain I find I still am. 

Perhaps I’ll be more certain at the end of my year. I wonder…

Anyway, where am I ? In my project… my journey. My church window. 

After hitting the lows of design anxiety​ (see previous post),​ I soared thru the high of lead line certainty. And glass cutting certainty. 

Glass. Let me tell you about the glass.. and my road trip with my stained glass mentor Debs to visit English  antique glass and Coventry cathedral.

 English antique glass based in Alvechurch   The last flat glass blowers in the land. And I visited just days before they blew their last flat glass(p). (Dramatic eh). But true. 

A glass workers sweetie shop. 

Candy brights. 

Swirling crystal sheets of pure magic beauty. Stacked with no applause in modest wooden racks. A tool of my trade. The jewel of my trade. And once again I think ‘labour of love’ after meeting Dave, The last flat glass blower. He was retiringly redundant after blowing glass for 20 years. Works of art on minimum wage. 

Here my lovely glass for the church window and, my skip treasures. 

And From English Antique Glass to Coventry… for inspiration. Why do we say ‘ you’ll get sent to Coventry?’… (and for some reason I think it’s also said as a punishment!)

Coventry. I’d visit it again in an instant. That cathedral and its story is just magnificent. Built from the wreckage of war. It made me very proud to think of those folks of Coventry. Raising such a building and the necessary strength and funds to do so. Another labour of love. With such immaculate attention to detail. 

And this led me to look closer  at John Piper in my down time over Christmas… I’d been blown away by his windows in the cathedral. 

And I found him (on YouTube) to be a delightful chap…most endearing. And in print, his wonderfully frank ‘art or anti-art’ stained glass book. Well, it is to become my new bible. 

All of my reasons and confusions why I want to challenge myself in this world of glass. … he says it. (On the first page).

I’ve rambled on again. .. to draw upon glass. ‘Think in glass’ said Christopher Whall … I do. But I want to catch the attention of John Piper too and do extraordinary, not just ordinary. 

And so I drew and drew that roofscape townscape for my church window. Stood back and drew again. Refining until… until I was happy with how it inched its way up the hill in the real imagined way of Kendal, and until I was just too itching to hit the paint. And paint on that lovely glass. (I have a deadline after all!)

And so here I am now. 

Drawing with paint upon glass. 

I’m getting there..

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A new beginning

Finally I gather the courage to announce the news…”I have my first church window!”

And it’s not new news. I’ve been either working on the design or thinking about the design since I was first approached by my neighbouring United Reformed Church almost a year ago. I’ve just said nothing out of fear and awe I guess. 

But now it’s real. I have my full size cartoon detailed up. And on Monday I will go to the glass shop to purchase beautiful glass. 

Shall I tell you a little about the terrifying journey I’ve been on…

Firstly, this is the largest job I have ever worked on at 3m high and just under 1m wide. Thankfully the gothic pointed timber frame is split into 6 and so each section is manageable for my modest work bench. And maybe that is why, in the early stages, I was quite relaxed by this as a project. 

My initial drawing was a quick knee jerk over excited response to the…”We’d like you to make us a window”.. With a complete blank canvas apart from “we’d like it to include a cross and represent a new beginning”.

I worked around the idea of the old name for Kendal, ‘Kirkby Kendal’ which translates as ‘village with a church that sits in the valley of the river Kent’. With my slanting cross (to reflect the 106 Highgate URC logo) nestled amongst my townscape and river and distant Kentmere hills, I thought I’d nailed it. 

And I sort of had. Only. Well, you know how things evolve and tweak and twist and gather a momentum all their own … this is what happened with my cross. 

It was to become a little bit straighter… a little bit stronger .. a little bit redder… and before I knew it (how did this happen!) I was drawing a big red cross with red fish flowing up it! (Nightmare). I was terrified by it. I started seeing crosses every. Cracks in pavements. Slabs on street… shadows… cloud formations… you get the picture. I was going mad and became completely overwhelmed by my task. 

(I almost threw in the towel)

I paused. I talked with friends. I listened to friends. And I went back to my drawing board. 

There. In my notebook. Almost the first thing I drew.. the URC logo. 

I allowed myself to meander on lead lines. I kept things simple. Geometry again. .. just alter scale and layer. Play around with the shapes and the colours.

And I found my lead lines. 

And then I replayed my background with renewed purpose.

So here, where I am now.. I am happy with this new harmony. The cross is not fighting with the landscape but is sitting on it, within it. I am imagining you will gaze upon the cross and see the promised land. In this case… the community of Kendal. When visiting 106 Highhate URC I felt very strong links with the community.

The landscape is kind of real, kind of imagined, comfortable and yet familiar.

The new beginning is represented in the sunrise.

The overlapping cross and fish create a tapestry of pattern and colour almost like a tartan, that reflects the straight gridded leadlines of the old windows. And the tapestry created brings to mind the Kendal motto ‘Cloth is my bread’.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

I always knew how to write. Right.

This was how I tried to ‘settle’ my thoughts ​…​(that were darting around my sparking brain like ricocheting chinks of light from a flicking rippling oily pool of silvery sprats!)(yeah. You get the picture)(chattery brain)…. As I accelerated out of Swansea by train on Monday​. H​aving ​just ​completed seven long full days of painting and staining masterclass​.​

​Travelling…​back to what it is that I do. 
Yikes. What do I do​?​ I know how I did it. I know I could do it. Only now. Freak. Like I said

 I mean​,​ I knew how to write. Right..

Right. Only… now to my writing I could add… a new flourish. That’s how it feels  As I digest ​and cogitate ​my last few days​ at Swansea.​

Oh my. My scholarship year. .. like a rollercoaster it roller coasters on. ​(Thanks again QEST).​

A Jonathan Cooke masterclass at Swansea College of Art… The Architectural Glass Centre…..University of Wales Trinity St. Davids. It’s on my map!

I knew as soon as I entered those hallowed corridors that it was going to be good. Swansea​ Art College​ has a rich history of contemporary stained glass and the examples in its corridors​ made me gasp.​ Magnificent windows at nearby St Mary’s church from artists including Patrick Reyntiens and John Piper​ and ​Japanese artist​ ​Kuni Kajiwara​ were also staggering. Many of the panels ​were built by Swansea college​ commercial department.

The Jonathan Cooke masterclass. What can ​I​ say! Such a generous, knowledgeable, patient and passionate tutor. He had us captivated with brushes and paints and fragments of historical glass. Jonathan must be a world leading authority on all things to do with conservation and restoration of historical stained glass.Mornings were spent listening and learning. Note taking and sharing. And the afternoons getting our hands dirty. It was fabulous! (Most days we were there 9 till 7.)Huge thanks must go to all the staff at  agc UWTSD and my superb classmates. Boy, did we have fun in Swansea. A bunch of misfits finding our fit right there!Pages upon pages of notes. Stacks of snaps. Samples and examples and friendships made. I have come away with a fuller-ness of knowledge and an absolute appetite for more. Swansea has delivered on just so many levels. 
But how did I start this blog entry…Oh, yes… I always knew how to write, right……!
Yes. There have been new tools. New ingredients. New methods. And I’ve ​even ​had to buy some..(I mean the brushes had bird names!)Goose… crow… (tis the size of the quill)Lavender oil … clove oil…(My workshop gonna smell ​so ​sweet)
But what I also saw in that room​ of scholars and academics.. was Magic Passion Curiosity (Perhaps a wee spoon of obsession)(ok. a big scoop!)

Glass and light. Our chosen subject.
From this course I am enlightened​ and​ illuminated. But yikes, also (mostly) stilled. Humbled. And in awe of….

​Such a lot to learn.

(At this point I take a big sigh. It can often feel so huge. My undertaking. To make myself better!)​

One chink of light at a time eh!

Now. What is it that i do…… Oh yes.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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. 


Mind blown. 

Humbled and in absolute awe. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

High Lights.. you may have missed…

What a busy old year or so….

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Hayloft, Brantwood

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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….

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment