This glimmer of a project for Brantwood, Lake District home of John Ruskin, started one year ago.
Let me tell you how it came to be… ( a lengthy tale, but deservedly so, i thinks…)
November 2016 and taking part in Brantwood’s Christmas Fair for the first time I was lucky in that they selected my curlew image for their poster to promote the event. (Many thanks Helen!)
And so my work caught the eye of Howard Hull, Director there, who was just embarking on renovations for the Terrace Tearoom and Howard told me he was ‘hopeful’ that some stained glass might be included in this project. (So I became hopeful too!)
Anyway, Spring arrived and Howard called me. The project was good to go! (I think i possibly squealed). Then I gathered myself (!) and arranged a visit to site.
Howard and I talked things through and later I sat and enjoyed a scrummy coffee and scone on the terrace. Howard specifically wanted birds to be included in the panel, (that is why he had chosen me!) and the panel was to go above the entrance door to the tearoom. (I was blown away – really)
When you stand in that doorway, Coniston Old man and Coniston Water are laid out in front of you – breathtaking. Coniston holds real attachments for me. I was brought up in Kirkby in Furness, just a few miles south and as kids, we would cycle through the lanes to Coniston for an ice-cream. Coniston Old Man was a familiar contour on the horizon from my bedroom window. A squiggly line with Black Combe to the front, wriggling over Corney Fell, skimming Caw to then land on The Old Man, standing above all to the north.
Dad was a climber and he told us legendary tales of skipping off work on sunny days as a ‘boy’ to hitch hike to Coniston for a weekend of climbing. The Old Man and Dow Crag were his playground, he said.
We were often dragged up Coniston Old Man as we grew up and so a few years ago, for old times sake, i dragged my brother and sisters and all our kids up there one Sunday afternoon…. ‘fun for free’. I said… ‘why does Debbie always want to take us on walks’…they said! Sunny to start, the clag was in on the summit and I had to play the alphabet game with wee Eva to distract and get her to the top for her wee square of kendal mint cake.. happy days!
Anyway, I ramble(!), John Ruskin wrote a book titled ‘Love’s Meinie: Three lectures on Greek and English Birds’ and Howard asked would it be possible to give a nod to this in my design.
I nodded. And began to put some thought into the composition.
Sat on the terrace that first time I toyed with the idea of flight as swallows darted all around me. But back home at the workshop and contemplating the mighty scene that had been set before me, together with the comforting sounds and smells of the tearoom I decided to be bolder. Creativity and originality are really celebrated at Brantwood and colours used are striking and different. So, let me make this a jewel I thought!
A lovely domestic social scene is where I landed – chattering blackbirds on the rowan tree branch and mother thrush feeding hungry babies in the scot’s pine. Shall we take a look….
First thing (after lots of mulling and small doodles) is to draw out the panel at full scale. As you can see from the pics this is an evolutionary process. Lines refined and tweaked and stared at. Then, refined and tweaked and stared at some more…. until happy…
Happy to start cutting, once colours have been selected of course….
Then pop the cut pieces on the glass easel to once again check lines and colours. You can see that I made further adjustments at this stage too…
Happy!… time to add paint!
and make even further improvements to the design.. i decided upon adding another layer of foliage to the gorgeous blue background…. pale grey shadows to add depth (I really love these!)
And the Scot’s pine…
And I even had time to design a ‘dc’ logo..(That’s me!)
and add a ‘For Love’s Meinie’ for Ruskin (and Howard)…
Time to start the lead work…
Then the finish and fitting into the casement..(where brother Duncan uses his skills)
Oh, and then the fun photo shoot where friend John kindly stepped in… here’s how he did it…
And the magnificent results that he got…. Thank you John Leech.
Guess, all that remains is to pop it in place and that is just what Duncan and I did today!
A big long story… but i think deserving of it!.
And i rather more than a little bit proud of it … (ahhh, shucks!)
Why not come along at the weekend to see it when I will be exhibiting at the 2017 Christmas Fair there…
I am absolutely thrilled with the new window. It is everything I hoped for and more. I love the jewel-like depth of the colours, the musical rhythm of the leadwork, the delicacy of the natural detail and the pure humanity in your treatment of the birds. I can positively hear them sing! Thank you so much, it is truly a triumph.
I am minded of Ruskin’s famous saying:
“When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone; let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for”
He would be delighted with this.
The Ruskin Foundation & Brantwood Trust
Wow! Fantastic, Can’t wait to there for a cup of tea and cake. Well done you xx
Thank you my dear… count me in on the tea and cake ! xx
Gang on, you’re not being commissioned to bake them cakes as well, are you?
A jewel indeed. Excellent piece of work Debbie, I’m looking forward to seeing the window now that it is installed – I’m sure Ruskin would have loved to have seen it too!
Thanks John…(it is quite thrilling) Thanks again for your lovely images