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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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