Celebration of the acquisition

On Saturday 9 April 2016, The Stained Glass Museum held an evening celebration to mark the recent acquisition of four stained glass panels by Geoffrey Clarke (1924-2014) and their completed installation. The event took place in the south transept of Ely Cathedral beginning with a reception and talks, followed by a private view in the Stained Glass Museum. Dr Loyd Grossman, Friend and supporter of the Stained Glass Museum, was our special guest.

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Left to right: Dr Jasmine Allen, Curator, The Stained Glass Museum; Elizabeth Stazicker , Chairman of The Stained Glass Museum Trust; and Dr Loyd Grossman.

After a wine reception, guests were welcomed by the Museum’s Chairman of Trustees, Elizabeth Stazicker and the Museum’s Curator, Jasmine Allen, who gave a brief introduction to the history of the acquisition, which had begun with the Museum’s former Curator visiting the late Geoffrey Clarke’s studio in 2009.

Some years had passed since these initial talks, but after Jasmine had visited the works in June 2013 it was clear they were special pieces which revealed Geoffrey Clarke’s importance as a stained glass artist and demonstrated the more experimental side of 20th century British stained glass. And so a fundraising appeal ‘The Geoffrey Clarke Stained Glass Appeal’ was launched, and after generous donations from individuals and a number of grant-giving bodies, the works were purchased in January 2014. Sadly, Geoffrey Clarke passed away a few months later on 30 October 2014, just a month away from his 90th birthday.

After specialist conservation of the panels, the installation, interpretation and display of the panels was complete by January 2016. Many individuals and organisations had helped along the way to purchase, conserve and display the artworks and Jasmine thanked them all, but in particular Geoffrey Clarke’s son Jonathan Clarke, who continues in his father’s footsteps as a successful sculptor, and Dr Judith LeGrove, the leading expert on Clarke’s artwork which encompassed prints, stained glass and sculpture.

Jasmine then introduced guests to our programme of short introductory talks, the first of which was on Clarke’s artistic career by Dr Judith LeGrove, Art Historian and author of Geoffrey Clarke: A Decade of Change (2013) and Geoffrey Clarke Printmaker: A Sculptor’s Prints (2012). Judith gave us a fantastic overview of Clarke’s artistic output in a variety of media, highlighting his major commissions, patrons and successes. The talk left us with a better understanding of the artistic and social context in which the stained glass artworks now belonging to the Museum were made, and drew attention to key themes and forms which appear across Clarke’s art in all media.

Following this, Nick Teed ACR (Senior Conservator) from York Glaziers Trust gave an overview of the conservation of these four artworks, explaining the challenges that the materials and structure of the artworks prevented to conservators and the approach taken by them which was minimum intervention. The conservation of Priest, which you can read more about on this blog, provided a very interesting case study. Merlyn Griffiths, the conservator who had worked on this panel, was in the audience, and many guests enjoyed hearing more about the conservation of this panel in the gallery following the talk.

Dr Loyd Grossman then gave a short speech in which he remarked on his own impressions of the significance of these artworks and their place within the context of the history of stained glass, which is so wonderfully illustrated by the Museum’s galleries. He encouraged guests to enjoy looking at the display and to show their support of the Museum by joining its Friends organisation.

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Dr Loyd Grossman (second from left) with the Museum’s Curator Dr Jasmine Allen, and our speakers Nick Teed, ACR and Dr Judith LeGrove

Finally, our appetite whetted, guests feasted both eye and palette by ascending the steps to view the artworks in the Museum gallery as well as enjoying the buffet. A fantastic night was had by all.

The new Geoffrey Clarke artworks are now on display for all to enjoy, together with a temporary exhibition which explores these modern panels through photographs, original sketch designs and information about the conservation of the panels.

‘Geoffrey Clarke (1924-2014): A New Spirit in Stained Glass’ runs until October 2016.

 

Installation of the new panels

 

After conservation at York Glaziers Trust was complete, plans to display the newly acquired artworks in the Museum’s gallery gathered apace. Due to the unusual three-dimensional nature of these artworks, all of them required specially-constructed display frames.

Neil Wilton, of IWF Ltd, who have made bespoke frames and lighting systems for stained glass at a number of venues including the Victoria & Albert Museum and York Minster, designed and manufactured these frames. Having visited the artworks in York Glaziers Trust conservation studio, discussed the structure and support required to hold them in place, and taken accurate measurements, the bespoke frames were made and finished with a powder-coated black matt paint. Neil delivered the frames to the Stained Glass Museum on a hot summer day, and explained how the fixings held the panels securely, and how they should be installed.

Above: Neil Wilton delivering the frames to the Museum and explaining how they should be installed.

 

Approval from Ely Cathedral Fabric Advisory Committee (FAC) was needed to install the frames, as the installation involved some drilling into the concrete screed floor. This was noisy but speedy work. The frames were firmly bolted to the floor by employees from Messenger Construction Ltd, who, it turned out, had also helped install the Museum’s display cases when the Museum relocated to the south triforium in 1999. To ensure maximum stability and prevent any movement, the freestanding frames were then fixed to the display cabinets at either side with cables at the top.

 

The frame for St Anthony, which was being installed at a height of more than 2.5m above the display cabinets, required a scaffold tower to put in place.

Above: The installation of the frames 

In just 2 hours one Saturday morning all the frames were in place and ready to hold the artworks. Once we had taken some photographs and admired them, they were safely cordoned off to prevent damage to either the frames or visitors!

 

Installing the artworks

In December 2015 Glaziers from M C Lead Glaziers, who were on-site installing recently conserved windows in the south transept of Ely Cathedral, kindly agreed to install both Fragment and St Anthony. The weighty Fragment, which uses much sheet lead, required two strong people to carry and fit it. We erected the scaffold tower again to install St Anthony and the team of three glaziers expertly handled and fitted the panel into its frames.

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M C Lead Glaziers installing St Anthony

The big reveal came when we switched the lights on – and, for the first time in over forty years, we could see the depth and range of blue tones in the panel. Given the panel is plated in several areas, and heavily painted, it required a strong LED light and we were delighted with the results.

Above: 1. Detail of St Anthony showing plating on reverse of the panel 2. St Anthony llluminated

The frames for Priest and St Sebastian were both originally designed so that they could be seen from the back as well as the front. Once the panels had been installed it was clear that there was not enough natural light to really appreciate them as stained glass artworks. So we decided to go ahead and install LED lights behind them, which meant the reverse of the artworks was no longer entirely visible, but that the artworks could be properly appreciated from the front as intended.

Above: Priest and St Sebastian installed without LED lighting

After some careful design adaptations LED panels were incorporated into the frames and the back-lighting has enabled a much greater appreciation of Clarke’s artworks. St Sebastian was the most tricky of all to install as it required three people – one to carefully hold the panel in place, while the other two carefully fitted the glass display case around it (without leaving any fingerprints!)

In their new frames, the panels provide a refreshing and stimulating addition to the gallery. Since the display was completed in January 2016, the artworks and their frames have attracted much attention from visitors. and we are sure that they will continue to do so!

 

 

 

‘Priest’ – Part 3: The Conservation Treatment Process

An Introduction

Before reading this post, I must point out that Priest is unlike any other, and is very different to the stained glass panels typically brought to a conservator for treatment. In conservation, every window is assessed individually, and rather than there being a universal ‘one size fits all’ approach, they are treated according to their own specific condition. When Priest arrived in the studio, it was in a very poor condition. It was very unstable, and without treatment, would have been unlikely to last much longer in its existing state. Indeed, pieces of glass had already long-since detached from the plaster support structure, which itself was cracking and had slowly buckled. The instability of Priest meant that as soon as conservation treatment started, it was obvious that this was a panel that would require more than the ideal approach of ‘minimum intervention’, in order to prolong its life into the future. Therefore, the treatment that Priest received is as individual as the panel itself, and is far from the typical approach to the conservation of stained glass. This is something that must be borne in mind whilst reading this post.

Removing the Plate and Cleaning the Glass

The first step in the process of conserving Priest, was to make a cradle that would support the panel, so that it could be laid flat. This cradle was propped up against the inside of the panel, and the whole thing was swiftly – but gently – laid down, so that the exterior faced upwards, in order to access the broken glass backing plate. The nails holding the plate in position were bent so that the two parts of the plate could be removed from the panel.

Detail of the exterior of the panel after the removal of one part of the glass backing plate - Exterior - 'Priest'.

Detail of the exterior of the panel after the removal of one part of the glass backing plate – Exterior Side – ‘Priest’.

Once on the bench, and ensuring that the fragile painted design on the glass was not disturbed, the thick, sticky dust was removed from the surface using a mixture of ethanol and de-ionised water, applied on cotton wool swabs. These were rolled across the surface, ensuring that they did not touch the paint. A gap of a few millimeters was left all around the boundary of the friable paint lines to make sure that it did not come into contact with the cleaning solution. This was all done whilst looking through a microscope, which ensured maximum precision. The edges of the glass along the break in the plate were cleaned thoroughly, again being mindful of the paint on one side, and the two pieces were adhered back together with silicone. This adhesive has a certain degree of flex to it, and so was suitable here due to the scale of the glass sheet and the length of the crack within it – anything more solid – such as an epoxy resin – would have created too much tension in the glass.

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Nail bent to facilitate the removal of the glass backing plate – Exterior side – ‘Priest’.

Where some pieces of coloured glass had remained within the plaster matrix, those that had fallen to the bottom of the panel and become wedged between it and the blacking plate were photographed, and then removed into a separate tray. This left the plaster visible, and it was possible to see the many empty gaps where glass should be. The plaster was given a light clean using a soft brush and a low suction vacuum, which had a pair of tights wrapped around the nozzle in order to catch all of the dirt and any loose plaster that came up with the suction. Following this, each of the individual coloured glass pieces was then cleaned with a mixture of ethanol and de-ionised water, on cotton wool swabs. This removed the build up of dust and grease, and left them clean and ready to be re-attached to the plaster. The same was done with the pieces of glass that remained within the plaster matrix.

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After the coloured glass pieces had been returned to their original positions – Exterior Side – ‘Priest’.

Detail of the reinstated glass - Exterior Side - 'Priest'.

Detail of the reinstated glass – Exterior Side – ‘Priest’.

Consolidating the Plaster Matrix

Now that the back of the panel had been exposed from underneath the backing plate, it became apparent that the plaster was in worse condition than originally thought. Without the obstruction of the plate, it was possible to see the extent of the cracking, and the relatively large widths that some of these cracks had reached. Before the pieces of coloured glass were reinstated, it was first necessary to fill these cracks with an adhesive. Paraloid B72 was chosen, and was applied to the cracks with a scalpel, which trickled into them in a capillary action. For those areas with wider gaps, the Paraloid was mixed with glass microballoons, and this provided a filler that would ensure that the plaster was bonded together and remained stable.

Consolidating cracks in the plaster - Exterior - 'Priest'.

Consolidating cracks in the plaster – Exterior Side – ‘Priest’.

Reattaching the Glass Pieces

After assessing the glass at close proximity, without the backing plate acting as a barrier – it was evident that the glass would need more to secure it than previously intended. The pieces of glass that were still attached to the plaster matrix were generally quite loose, and were likely to fall away from the panel in the near future without a form of barrier to catch them. To solve this problem, we began to look towards the use of fabric as a means of securing the glass, and ensuring that even if it did come loose, it would not fall away from the panel. The stained glass conservators at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow had performed some valuable tests that focused on the use of fabrics as an alternative method of consolidating fractured glass, and so inspiration was taken from here for this project. Information about their investigations can be found on their blog here: https://boppardconservationproject.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/repairing-fractures-ii/

We determined that a fabric called polyester stabiltex would be used in one piece across the entire reverse of Priest, to act as a form of ‘safety net’ for the glass. The weave of this fabric is visible from the reverse of the panel, and if it is viewed at close proximity from the interior, but bends in well enough not to be distracting, especially in areas where there are multiple pieces of glass layered within the plaster matrix. Trials were undertaken of the performance two potential adhesives, in which to attach the fabric. These were Klucel G – a wheat starch paste – and Paraloid B72 – a thermoplastic resin. Though Klucel G adhered well to the glass, and left very minimal visual impact, it did not adhere to the plaster, which was a big problem for this panel. Therefore, though the Paraloid B72 did leave a slight white cast in some areas on the surface of the glass, it adhered well to the plaster (as we have already found out) and from tests carried out it was confirmed that it could be relied upon to remain stable over time. Similarly, another test was undertaken to see how plaster responded to being submerged in the liquids necessary to remove Paraloid B72 and Klucel G. Fortunately, it was acetone – that needed to remove the Paraloid B72 – that caused the least amount of changes in the plaster. Water was the other option – which would remove the Klucel G, however this slightly softened the plaster after an hour. These tests were not exactly representative of the actual fabric removal process, as the panel would not need to be soaked with liquid in order to remove the adhered fabric, rather than lightly brushed with a dampened brush. Regardless of this different, it was informative to see the results, and beneficial to see that the removal of Paraloid B72 would not cause substantial damage to the plaster.

Before applying the polyester stabiltex, the coloured glass pieces of glass were first adhered to the plaster matrix with small dabs of Paraloid B72. Following this, the fabric was laid over the reverse of the panel and the adhesive was applied with a paintbrush.

Applying the Paraloid B72 to the polyester stabiltex - Exterior Side - 'Priest'.

Applying the Paraloid B72 to the polyester stabiltex – Exterior Side – ‘Priest’.

Polyester stabiltex on the exterior side of the panel - Exterior Side - 'Priest'.

Polyester stabiltex on the exterior side of the panel – Exterior Side – ‘Priest’.

Returning the Backing Plate

The final task before the panel could be stood back upright was to reattach the backing plate. It became apparent that the old nails would not provide enough support to ensure that the glass plate would stay in position in the long-term, and so another solution had to be sought. Similarly, the plaster structure itself was not directly fitted into the outer wooden frame, but was actually placed inside a smaller, inner frame, which itself was only attached to the main frame by small sections of plaster, of which some had broken. Therefore, the inherent fragility of the plaster was made more precarious by the instability of the framing system. To solve this dilemma, a more invasive approach that originally desired had to be implemented. This was justified by the fact that without it, the panel’s lifespan would be drastically reduced, and also that despite the necessity for new screw holes having to be drilled into the wooden frame; these holes would be the only direct impact on the original fabric. These holes were also much more desirable than the irretrievable loss from collapse that the panel could face without the stabilisation treatment. The frame was secured by creating a small number of brackets, that were made from manganese bronze, bent into an ‘L’ shape. Each of the two sides had a hole punched through it, and then these were screwed into the wood – one side on the outer frame, and one on the interior frame, so that the inner frame was secured and no longer moved within the outer frame, jeopardising the panel.

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Detail of the reverse of ‘Priest’ before the new black card strips were added. Note the brackets holding the inner and outer wooden frames together, and also those holding the backing plate in position – Exterior Side – ‘Priest’.

In order to secure the glass backing plate, the same kind of brackets were created, but this time, only one side was drilled with a hole, and the other was surrounded by plastazote – an inert foam used frequently in conservation as a packing and storage material. One end of the brackets were screwed into the frame, and the plastazote end rested against the glass backing plate – sufficiently enough to support it from loss or movement, but gently enough not to put any pressure on the glass. The brackets were also positioned to avoid contact with any of the fragile paint on the plate.

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Bespoke bracket holding the glass backing plate in position – Exterior Side – ‘Priest’.

 

The Frame

The frame was then cleaned with a smoke sponge, which is a form of cleaning apparatus used in conservation – notably that of fire damaged objects. This is made from vulcanized rubber that absorbs dust as it is gently drawn across the surface of an object. The beading on the front of the frame that had come loose was reattached using Paraloid B72, as fixing it back in position with nails would cause too much stress to the panel, due to the requirement of using a hammer to insert them.

The final task for the exterior side of the panel was to remove the black paper around the perimeter. This had acted as a barrier to stop light coming through around the plaster. Over time some of this had been lost, and the remaining paper had weakened and become thin and liable to tearing. The decision was made for this to be removed, and retained for archiving, and a new, sturdier black card reinstated in its place, and in that of the missing card.

Conserving the Interior face of the panel

Due to the panel having been laid flat and then erected back into a vertical position, some pieces of loose plaster inevitably fell away from the interior side of the panel. Most of these areas were reattached using the same adhesive, as before, however for a small number of tiny pieces that fell away, their positions remained unidentified. It was not felt that there was justification to attach them ‘at random’ and so they have been retained for archiving. The repair around the nose was one of the pieces that had detached – but due to the crumbling nature of the repair material, it was not possible to reinstate it to the panel. Again, this has been retained for archiving, and the glass is the nose has been positioned to fit without the later repair addition. Cracks in the plaster were consolidated, and the visible areas of coloured glass cleaned from this side.

Old repair to the nose of the figure, now archived - Interior Side - 'Priest'.

Old repair to the nose of the figure, now archived – Interior Side – ‘Priest’.

Detail of the nose after conservation. Note the original plaster revealed after the archiving of the repair compound - Interior Side - 'Priest'.

Detail of the nose after conservation. Note the original plaster revealed after the archiving of the repair compound – Interior Side – ‘Priest’.

In Conclusion

The conservation of Priest was not without it’s challenges. The method of its original manufacture suggests that it was purely experimental, and was unlikely to have ever been built to last. Certainly, it has become weaker over time, and without treatment, would have fallen into irretrievable disrepair in the not too distant future. Though the conservation treatment carried out was relatively invasive, it has ensured that the panel will remain in a stable condition for a much longer period of time, and that it is safe to display and be enjoyed by visitors to the Stained Glass Museum. This panel is particularly beautiful, and now conserved, its true beauty can be seen for the first time in over half a century, when it was last put on display. This is a brilliant example of an art student’s exploration of materials and his formation of ideas in 3D, and provides an excellent opportunity to see an early piece of work by artist, Geoffrey Clarke. The exhibition in Ely is a fitting way to remember the artist, whilst appreciating his talent and creativity, and it has been a pleasure to preserve one of his most fragile works for you to enjoy.

Before and After Conservation Photographs

'Priest' - Interior Side - Before Conservation

‘Priest’ (1949) – Interior Side – Before Conservation

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‘Priest’ (1949) – Interior Side – After Conservation

'Priest' - Exterior Side - Before Conservation

‘Priest’ (1949) – Exterior Side – Before Conservation

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‘Priest’ (1949) – Exterior Side – After Conservation

‘Priest’ – Part 2: The Conservation Treatment Proposal.

Part 1 of this post contained historical information about Priest, an introduction to the materials from which it was made, and an assessment of its current condition. The following post will discuss the proposals for the conservation treatment of this panel.

'Priest' (1949) - Interior view

‘Priest’ (1949) – Interior view

The main concern with the Priest is its instability. The use of two somewhat incompatible materials – glass and plaster – has meant that over time, the plaster support has bowed outwards and the glass has become detached from it, which has compromised both the integral stability of the panel and also its aesthetic appearance.

The priority for the treatment of this panel is to ensure that it will not collapse any further. This will necessitate the removal of the painted backing plate, and whilst this is separate from the panel, there will be the opportunity to reinstate the pieces of glass that have fallen away from the plaster, returning the panel as close as possible to its original intended appearance.

 

Glass

Painted Backing Plate

The backing plate will need to be removed in order to access the glass and plaster at the back of the panel. This will mean that the panel needs to be laid on its front in a supportive cradle. Once this has been achieved, the nails and wood holding the plate in place will require documentation and then removal, and then the plate can be taken out.

The plate itself is coated with a thin layer of grease and dirt, and so this will need to be removed. It is likely that this will require a ‘wet’ clean – which will involve the use of de-ionised water and ethanol in order to cut through the grease, and this will need to be done on both sides of the glass. The paint used on the outside of the plate will have to be avoided as it has not been fired onto the glass, and so a microscope will need to be used to ensure that no liquid comes into contact with it, otherwise the pigment will dissolve.

The plate is broken into two pieces, and the use of silicone is recommended to adhere these back together. The edges of the glass will requite cleaning with acetone before any adhesive is applied, and this will need to be done very carefully to avoid the paint.

Detail of the break in the glass backing plate (exterior)

Detail of the break in the glass backing plate (exterior)

Glass Pieces

While the backing plate is away from the frame, the pieces of glass that have fallen from the plaster support can be collected, documented, cleaned, and their original positions identified. In the areas where adhesive has previously been used, the outline of the piece of glass formerly attached has left an impression in the adhesive, and this could be used to help identify which piece went where.

Evidence of adhesive on the glass. This can be used to determine where glass pieces have fallen from.

Evidence of adhesive on the glass. This can be used to determine where glass pieces have fallen from.

The glass that is still secure within the plaster can be cleaned with a soft brush to remove any dust. That which is separate from the plaster can be given a wet clean before it is reinstated, to remove any dust, dirt, and adhesive residue.

At this point it is suggested that Paraloid B72 is used to adhere the glass back onto the plaster. This is recommended as it is reversible, and though a ‘wet’ mixture, the acetone within the mixture evaporates at such a rate that it would not ‘sit’ on the surface of the plaster for long enough to cause damage.

Whilst the backing plate is separated from the panel and the back of the panel is exposed, the stability of the glass can be assessed, to ensure that no other pieces are likely to fall from their positions in future. It is not advised that the backing plate be removed more times than absolutely necessary, and so this is a good opportunity to undertake some preventative conservation.

Plaster

The plaster shall undergo a ‘dry clean’, in order to remove any dust and cobwebs that have formed on the surface during the panel’s years in storage. This will involve using a soft brush, lightly dusted across the surface in order to clean it. It is referred to as a ‘dry’ clean as there is no liquid involved, and due to the nature of plaster, it is preferred that liquid is avoided unless it is necessary.

The cracks in the plaster can be consolidated with Paraloid B72 in order to stabilise the network, as this is integral to holding the glass in place. Though it would be possible to use new plaster to consolidate the cracks in the original plaster, there are numerous problems with this approach. A new batch may not adhere to the older plaster, and there is a possibility that they may separate and fall away at some point in the future. Similarly, in adhering new to old, the moisture in the new mixture would compromise the stability of the older material. As discussed above, the Paraloid B72/ acetone mix will ensure that liquid does not sit on the surface of the plaster for a prolonged period of time.

Cracking in the plaster (exterior)

Cracking in the plaster (interior)

 

Wood

The wooden frame is generally sound, however in areas, parts of the beading has come loose and shifted its position, and some nails are missing. In this instance it would be possible to re-set this by using a new nail in the old nail-hole, and this would ensure that the frame is able to retain its stability and hold the panel in place.

The frame can be cleaned using a soft bush and a smoke sponge. The latter is a vulcanised rubber sponge that is swept gently across a surface and absorbs any dust and grime. This is to be used after a soft brush has removed any harder deposits which may otherwise scratch the wood when a smoke sponge is moved across it.

Cobwebs inside the wooden frame.

Cobwebs inside the wooden frame.

Paint

The paint is of a powdery consistency and is not solidly adhered to the glass, which may account for the area of loss. Therefore when being handled in the future, extra care must be taken, ensuring that nothing touches the plate or the paint. Though a ‘ghost’ of the paint is visible, it is not so definite that paint could be applied with confidence, and any moisture on the original cold paint would harm it, and so the painted areas of the backing paint shall be left untreated.

Additional Materials

The removal of the exterior backing plate is necessary to reinstate the missing glass, which would include removing the nails, wood and plaster holding it in place, and manoeuvring it around the black paper attached to the wooden frame. Anything taken away in order to remove this plate would be catalogued, and reinstated in the same position when the plate is put back into place.

There are some areas where the black paper used to block out the light between the panel and the frame is missing. In those areas, new black paper shall be added to the frame to maintain this function.

There is already substantial cracking of the plaster that was designed to hold the plate in place, and in some areas bits have become loose and fallen away. Therefore when these areas are put back, and after the plate is replaced, their reinforcement with Paraloid B72 will not only hold them back in their original positions but also ensure their strength into future.

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Broken segments of plaster used to hold the backing plate in position.

To Be Continued…

Part three of this blog post will concentrate on the conservation process itself, and will guide through the decision making processes and chosen treatment methods used to conserve Priest.

 Merlyn Griffiths

 

 

New plans for displaying the Geoffrey Clarke panels

Whilst conservation work is ongoing at York Glaziers Trust, in Ely we are making plans to display the Geoffrey Clarke RA (1924-2014) stained glass panels at the Stained Glass Museum in bespoke frames. The Museum’s Curator, Dr Jasmine Allen, fills us in on plans to develop the gallery to incorporate these innovative stained glass panels into the Museum’s permanent display.

The Context

Our main gallery is located in the south triforium of Ely Cathedral. It is a long narrow space, fitted with specially constructed display cabinets containing our permanent display of stained glass. The 125 panels on display are illuminated by both LED and fluorescent lighting. The permanent collection is arranged chronologically, from the medieval glass dating to 1200 through to our most modern works of the twenty-first century.

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The Stained Glass Museum Gallery showing the permanent display cases.

Because of the unique three-dimensional nature and size of the stained glass panels by Geoffrey Clarke which we have just acquired, it has been necessary to explore alternative methods of display which are more suitable to these modern works. After a meeting with the Curator and a visit to York Glaziers Trust to see the panels we asked Neil Wilton, of IWF Ltd, to draw up some design proposals to display these panels in our small gallery space.

Proposed Plans for Display

Below are some CAD (Computer-aided design) drawings which show proposed plans for displaying the panels at various points along the gallery. All of the panels will be placed in inert metal frames which will support and protect the panels whilst conforming to 21st-century museum standards.

SG frames Mk4 a

An impression of the four stained glass panels as they may look in the Stained Glass Museum Gallery © IWF Ltd

St Anthony is a long horizontal panel made using traditional techniques of leaded flat glass. Its large size and horizontal format requires support and the plan to install it above one of our fixed cabinets will support the panel’s weight and make maximum use of wall space in the gallery. The panel will be artificially lit from behind by a state-of-the-art LED panel. Although St Anthony will be positioned at a height above most of our stained glass panels on display, visitors will obtain an unobstructed view of the whole panels from the modern section at the west end of the gallery.

SG frames Mk4 c

A CAD drawing showing Fragment installed in a freestanding frame in between display cabinets. © IWF Ltd

The three smaller panels, Fragment, Priest, and Saint Sebastian, are all all three-dimensional panels which will not fit into our permanent display cases. In order to place them on display, and make focal points of the panels, we intend to display them as freestanding panels, fixed to the floor, and placed in between our permanent display cases. Displayed in this way the panels will be illuminated by natural light from the plain glazed windows of the triforium, with the additional option of artificial LED spotlights during the winter.

SG frames Mk4 d

CAD impression of the freestanding panels in the gallery © IWF Ltd

Furthermore, this freestanding display will enable circumnavigation of our panels so that visitors can see them from all angles. This will provide a new viewing experience in the gallery. Visitors will be able to see panels like Priest and Fragment from the front and the back, enabling a greater understanding of the composition, structure and facture of the panels.

These initial plans for displaying the Geoffrey Clarke stained glass panels have been approved by the Museum’s Trustees and we are currently awaiting further details about the specifications, fixing mechanisms and cost of manufacturing the frames.

We anticipate that we need to raise a further £2,100 to protect and put these panels on permanent display in the Museum gallery. Please consider making a donation to our appeal.

How to Donate:

Online: http://stainedglassmuseum.com/geoffreyclarkeappeal.html 

By cheque: Cheques should be made payable to ‘The Stained Glass Museum’, and posted to: The Stained Glass Museum, The South Triforium, Ely Cathedral, Ely, CB7 4DL.

By debit/credit card: Please phone The Stained Glass Museum shop on 01353 660347 to make a donation towards the acquisition of these panels by Geoffrey Clarke by debit or credit card.

In person: Fill out a donation form at The Stained Glass Museum.

For more information contact Dr Jasmine Allen, curator@stainedglassmuseum.com

Geoffrey Clarke Obituary

Geoffrey Clarke RA (28 November 1924 – 30 October 2014)

Geoffrey Clarke was a pioneer in a golden age of British sculpture and his fearless experimentation with new materials and processes saw him create works that epitomise the vibrancy of the post-war British art scene.

Click the following links to read obituaries as published in the British press:

The Guardian6 November 2014.

The Telegraph, 11 November 2014.

The Independent, 19 November 2014.