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Norwich to host pioneering display of stained glass

Norwich to host pioneering display of stained glass

June 12
00:25 2018

One of Britain’s leading lights in the art of stained glass will be given the run of the Sainsbury Centre of Visual Arts in a pioneering show that has tested the technical limits of the centuries-old medium.

More than 30 stained glass panels and screens made by Brian Clarke over the past three years will be at the heart of the exhibition, which will occupy the whole of the building as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations.

Mr Clarke said the show marked a “big moment” in stained glass as an artistic medium, as recent technical developments had given artists hitherto unknown freedom to create precise colour effects and the ability to tackle new subjects.

“The range of experience I can deliver through stained glass is greater than anything I’ve known in anything in my life,” he said.

Subtle changes of colour require glass to be laminated, a process that can make it brittle or vulnerable to discolouration or deterioration. But Mr Clarke, who has made paintings, mosaic and tapestry as well as glasswork over his near five-decade career, said experimental advances in recent years have allowed him to overcome such barriers.

“This exhibition demonstrates that stained glass has an authority and potential to deal with every human condition,” he said.

© Chris Gascoigne

Paul Greenhalgh, director of the Sainsbury Centre, said the building had been transformed by the installation of the screens. “There’s something intangible, something dense and rich, about the light that comes off standing glass. I’ve never seen the building like it.”

Mr Clarke has designed art for windows around the world, including the Holocaust memorial in Darmstadt, a Swiss Cistercian abbey at La Fille-Dieu, Linköping Cathedral in southern Sweden and the royal mosque at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

The Oldham-born artist has also done private commissions for Paul McCartney, Zaha Hadid, David Bailey and Norman Foster. He is the executor of the estates of both Francis Bacon, the artist, and Zaha Hadid, the late architect.

© Matthias Kirchberger

Mr Greenhalgh said that while stained glass had lost popularity as an artistic practice in the 20th century, it remained akin to music in its visceral operation on the senses.

“In a technological age . . . we dismiss the idea that natural light could be so powerful and engaging. It bathes you in colour,” he said.

After the show at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich, the screens will tour to destinations in the US, Japan, Korea, China and Russia.

“Brian Clarke: The Art of Light” runs from June 16 to October 14 at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich.

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