Blessed Robert Grissold Catholic Church is a brick and wood building in Balsall Common, built in 1994. The church has two painted glass windows already and are now commissioning me (fingers crossed) to make a third. Although you can’t see all three windows at the same time, I wanted to make a link to these two (above left) in my design which is on the theme of the eucharist and is in a straight forward sort of style. I sent off my initial sketch designs with the usual trepidation and received a great reply from the priest that included the sentences quoted below.
“Some of the abstract patterns reminded me of the decoration on the walls of the 17th century chapels at Baddesley Clinton and Harvington. Considering Blessed Roberts association with the recusants I wonder if Sasha could incorporate into her design a deliberate echo of this religious art”
I spend a lot of time looking at religious art (in churches) and a lot of effort trying to keep the influences out of my own work. This is particularly the case when I am working on a hospital commission as I have often been told that my work appealed to the commissioners because it isn’t traditional and therefore it doesn’t have associations with churches and by extension with death. So for a change, I was delighted to be able to pick up on some shapes, drops of blood and tears, and use them in a way that doesn’t disguise their meaning.
Both Baddesley Clinton and Harvington Hall are moated manor houses in the West Midlands with hidden priest holes and rooms formerly used as private chapels. The walls of Harvington Hall are covered with paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries preserved in good condition after being whitewashed for over a hundred years. The small chapel is covered in a schematic pattern of the shapes that were unknowingly in my first designs - some folds of cloth at the top, then alternating lines with drops of blood and tears of the passion. As my design is in a straight forward style, I copied them and kept them in colour lines which radiate out from a white circular host and chalice. In the glass, the white (sandblasted and clear) areas will really stand out against the colours of the fired enamel, seen in the samples I made below.