JOHN PIPER has designed a window, and Patrick Reyntiens has translated the design into glass, for a 15th century
church in Plymouth dedicated to St. Andrew.
The subject of the window, which has five long narrow lights, is a traditional one in the west country, so Mr. Piper told me. It is made up, intricately and with beautiful balance, of the instruments which are associated with the Passion.
With the crowing cock. the vestment without seam, the flails, and the nails, with the clanking pieces of silver. the crown of thorns and the many other '"things" which are mentioned in the Gospel narrative, it might seem difficult to envisage how a unity could be devised which would bring them together.
John Piper has had a masterly idea. Slashing their diagonal way eoross the lights and thus drawing them together in a single whole, he has crossed the lance with the ladder, creating thereby a cross of St. Andrew and, by such clever placing, honouring the patron saint of the church.
A more admirable and imaginative interpretation of a design than Mr. Reynitens's would be hard to desire, and the result of this fusion of two inspirations is a glowing, rich, jewelled work of great intenzity of whose contemporary spirit there can be no doubt, but which will " belong" most sympathetically to its medieval setting.
Nat so happy NOT so happy are the designs for
two lights in the church of Our Lady of Sorrows, Liverpool, by Varuni Pieris, an artist who was horn in Ceylon, but who has worked for many years in this country.
Her studies of angels weaving an intricate pattern with gesture and drapery are too reminiscent of the school Nativity Play they cannot convince us that they are not all little girls in nightdresses. When translated into glass the discipline and restraint that the leading gives may add depth, but if, as it appears, the windows are to flank the sides of statue of Our Lady it would seem necessary to darken the light colours, otherwise one wonders if the strong light will not have the effect of putting the statue in darkness.
INCIDENTALLY, to all who are interested in stained glass in particular and church architecture
in general, let me recommend a programme of films comprising II) an interview with Basil Spence about Coventry Cathedral in which he explains his ideas for Coventry in relation to the cathedrals of Ravenna, Albi, Pisa, Siena and Kings College; (2) a view of Canterbury Cathedral as it survived the flying bombs and (3) illuminating details of the medieval glass of Fairford church in Gloucestershire. Watch the cinemas for these.