For the second part of my project, I took my stained glass window templates to Teignmouth Community School, Mill Lane and worked with Miss Radford and Miss Goodwin’s year 4/5 classes over two afternoons.
After a brief history and explanation of stained glass – I got the children working on their task, to design a stained glass window with a message to the world about something they cared about. As stained glass windows were the picture books of their time, conveying messages, to support the bible stories of the Vicar sermons. The pupils of Mill Lane were ALL about saving the planet, the windows reflect their frustrations and fears about plastic pollution and endangered animals. Some were about commemorating war and some were to do with commemorating dead relatives and promoting charities like cancer care charities.
Thank you so much to the pupils and staff at Mill Lane for their hard work and enthusiasm. I hope you agree their pictures are delightful. Here is a selection of them.
I will begin hanging them all at St Michaels church in the next week and then all the children and their families can come and see their art exhibition. Several of the designs will be turned into larger banners for the church to display into the future.
St Michael’s church is an iconic landmark on Teignmouth sea front (there has been a church on the site for over 1000 years) and the salt air has led the stone work around the stained glass to deteriorate quickly. So the church community raised money and were helped by the Heritage Lottery Fund to get the stonework and stained glass repaired.
Part of their grant was for community engagement and I am working with some of the town’s primary school students. They are learning about how to make stained glass windows and why churches have/had stained glass. They are then being invited to design a stained glass window conveying something important to them, or a message for the world. These designs will be exhibited in the church and then our will be chosen to be made into banners for the church to display and celebrate the restoration. The banners will be made by local craft group West Teignmouth Craft Club with help from the congregation.
Huge thanks to Mrs Gordon’s class at Our Lady of St Patrick RC School who were the first school to take part and they have made some wonderful designs. The children were very thoughtful and their designs cover many topics, with everything from WW2 to celebrate dead relatives to looking after our mental health. I don’t know how we are going to choose 4 designs!
I have been working on three public commission War Memorials over several years and this week saw all 3 of them launch; ahead of the Remembrance events on Sunday 11th November. I have found these commissions fascinating and it has been a poignant experience and I am honoured to be part of the centenary
In 2014, I was commissioned by Devon Remembers to work with Teignmouth Community School year 7’s to create a war memorial inspired by the experiences of the people on the Teignmouth Home Front (read about it here). I completed the piece a year ago, but it was moved from its usual home in the school reception, to Exeter Cathedral for the 100 year Centenary.
all of the members of the football team lost in combat over both world wars.
This was a fabulous piece to make as I got to combine the ‘old crafts’ of painting and leading with the modern fusing and photographic firing techniques. Roge Slater from the club made the frame and the work is back lit and on display at the Club.
My final War Memorial was much closer to home. My colleague Sam Lock and I were approached by the Teignmouth Remembrance Committee to create a fitting art installation for the centenary of W1. We decided on a make do and mend theme and invited people from Teignmouth and all over the country to join us in making fabric or woollen poppies. The result was 30 metres of net covered in handmade poppies. When we had secured all the hundreds of poppies to the net I went up in the cherry picker and secured them to the top of the lighthouse. Despite very heavy weather the memorial remains in place for Remembrance week and hopefully beyond. Thank you to all the hundreds of people who made poppies for us, from primary school children to octogenarians. This has been a wonderful project and we are so grateful to the town for being so enthusiastic about the project.
Mixing history and art is when I am generally happiest and I have had such a great experience with the 180 students at TCS, the research team at Wealdstone and with my fellow towns people in our little seaside town. I just wish that humans could move beyond remembering the horrors of war to learning from these lessons of history.
I have just completed a public commission with Newton Abbot Museum. They are restoring and moving too the disused St Leonard’s Church in Newton Abbot town centre.
For the last 6 weeks I have commandeered the church, used it as a temporary studio, to teach 160 people various aspects of glass making. We have been creating small pieces of glass art to incorporate into the fabric of the new building. All the work has been made in response to the museum’s artefacts and image library. We have celebrated a wide selection of the museum collection. From Great Western Railway photo’s to the wooden, carved Tudor Sandford Orleigh Screen.
The site is in desperate need of the love it will soon receive, the restoration of the building begins soon, with National Heritage Lottery funding and once converted it will house the museum and the town council chambers. The building has significant stained glass by well known Victorian
artist Fredrick Drake, who also worked on Exeter Cathedral, various sites in Newton Abbot and St Michael’s in Teignmouth. St Leonard’s is also full of lovely carved details and the old organ pipes. It has been a real privilege to work in the building and be part of its future.
I worked with eight community groups in total. Wolborough Primary School, Coombshead Academy, University of the Third Age, Learn Devon, Newton Abbot Art Group, museum volunteers, council workers and local children. I also held 3 days for the general public. Between all these groups we have made tea cups and cakes for a Madge Mellor inspired mobile for the refreshment area and cast glass tiles to decorate the museum walls. We also made lots of painted, acid etched and photo transfer details inspired by the museum’s fantastic and varied collection; which I will incorporate into two, 3m tall panels to flank the main entrance of the building.
In the run up to the new museum building opening the Community Engagement Officer Kate Green will be running various workshops and interactive experiences to connect Newton Abbot citizens with their local museum. Look out for updates in the local press!
Here are some of the things we produced, more to come as soon!
Just over a year ago I started on a wonderful journey into the past with Teignmouth Community School. The Year 7 pupils researched Teignmouth in WWI and then I led drawing workshops with the 180 children to produce drawings on this theme. The results were great and you can see all the original pictures and read about the process here.