Before beginning the HNC Glass Art course at City of Glasgow college, my preconception of stained glass was that it was stuffy and traditional. I associated stained glass with the ecclesiastical scenes of church windows and decorative florals I’d seen in domestic buildings.
However, with even just a little bit of research, I discovered a wealth of stained glass artists that make stunning and exciting works with this ancient craft. One artist working in stained glass that has been extremely influential is American artist Judith Schaechter.
Judith Schaechter - Battle of Carnival and Lent - 2011
Schaechter draws on a rich visual vocabulary to create dazzling glass panels that explore the beauty in the grotesque and post-modern feminism. By layering up multiple layers of engraved coloured glass, Schaechter is able to create a wide palette of colours that would otherwise be impossible to achieve. I am drawn to Schaechter’s work as I adore her expressive figuration that often references medieval and religious iconography such as the ‘The Life Ecstatic’ which depicts a saint-like figure in the throes of ecstasy.
Judith Schaechter - Detail from Life Ecstatic -2016
Pinky Maclure is a Scottish artist and musician that explores similar techniques and themes to Judith Schaechter but her work is much more interested in using stained glass as a tool for personal expression and storytelling than of Schaechter. Where Judith uses invented characters; Maclure often inserts herself into the work to explore personal histories such as her oneiric panel ‘Self-portrait Dreaming of Portavadie'.
Pinkie Maclure - Self-portrait Dreaming of Portavadie -2019
In addition to contemporary stained glass, I am also really inspired but lots of historical artists that challenged the status quo and paved the way artists like Schaechter and Maclure. One of my biggest historical influences is Irish stained glass artist and illustrator Harry Clark. Working within the Arts and Crafts Movement, Clark’s richly coloured and delicately painted windows are truly stunning. Weaving in rich symbolism and hidden imagery Clark's windows seek to entice and captivate the viewer.
Harry Clark - Detail of the Geneva Window - 1930
These are just a few of my stained glass heroes, I hope I have managed to open your eyes a bit to some of the excellent work in this somewhat overlooked medium.