Harry Clarke, Sturminster Newton / by Sasha Ward

Bottom right in window, HC signature and date                                                                 My quick sketch

Bottom right in window, HC signature and date                                                                 My quick sketch

The Harry Clarke window in St. Mary's Church, Sturminster Newton, Dorset is worth going a long way to see. I pored over poor quality illustrations of his work in stained glass catalogues when I was a student but never managed to visit any. It was worth the wait - better in real life than you could imagine, a reminder of all the best things about stained glass and a thrill to see the signature of my first favourite stained glass artist. To savour the moment that I saw my first Harry Clarke I did a quick sketch of some of the background details.

Saints Elizabeth, Mary and Barbara                  Click to enlarge        Saint Elizabeth of Hungary / Roma Spencer-Smith

However, the figures interested me as much as the patterns, or maybe the way the figures get their strength from the way they are entwined with the patterns and sharp contemporary details. St. Elizabeth is based on a portrait of Roma Spencer-Smith in whose memory this window was commissioned and St. Barbara is based on Harry Clarke's wife, Margaret. The child is a portrait of Roma's son, under a year old when she died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. These figures sent me off to find out more about the combination of  people and saints portrayed - I like a portrait that looks you in the eye. 

Details showing dedication and the shoes of the 3 main figures               Click to enlarge