Sasha Ward

Maternity Dorchester by Sasha Ward

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I’ve just installed printed translucent vinyl on 16 windows - that’s 98 panes - in the delivery rooms of the Maternity Unit at Dorchester Hospital. It was difficult to design (I started this project almost a year ago) and even more difficult to photograph the results. The designs are laid out in a block above, they are on a landscape theme with curved lines cutting across the unattractive window frames. The details within these curved shapes are mostly borrowed from things I’ve done recently and liked, but translated into a colour pallet that works with the pinks, purples and pale blues on the walls of the rooms.

Room 31 - before and during installation

Room 31 - before and during installation

You may wonder why you need to block a lovely view (above right), but where there is a view there is also a balcony covered in debris and privacy is what a woman who is giving birth wants. Some of the windows (below right) are overlooked by windows across the courtyard, so in both of these situations even the tops of the windows need to block the view while letting the light in and sending the curtains packing.

Room 12 - before and after, showing both windows against a pink wall.

Room 12 - before and after, showing both windows against a pink wall.

Room 1 - the curtains are going.

Room 1 - the curtains are going.

Room 27 - bed very close to the window, glow of light through the pale colours.

Room 27 - bed very close to the window, glow of light through the pale colours.

Working with digitally printed vinyl throws up its own surprises, obviously different from glass painting but with lots of qualities that translate across the two media. Room 25 gave me a shock similar to the one I get on opening the kiln and seeing that a coloured enamel has done its own thing, different from the sample. Often this oddity makes the work more interesting. So Room 25 with its block of luminous pink ended up being my favourite - the success of works like these is dependent on the colour combinations and I think that I’ve got that part right here.

Room 25

Room 25

Transformation by Sasha Ward

Offcuts standing sideways in my studio window, each 1 metre tall

Offcuts standing sideways in my studio window, each 1 metre tall

I had a commission to make two fanlight windows for a friend's house in Poland. She said offcuts would do, so I put two leftovers sideways in my studio window and waited for inspiration. I had made the glass in 2000 for an exhibition, the pink one broke and I remade it in yellow but was never satisfied with the results. You can see in the pages below from my 2000 sketchbooks that there was a lot going on here - how could I add something while also making sense of a poor composition ?

Meanwhile another friend, the artist Wendy Smith who I met when we were students together, came to stay. She had a lot to say about the process of transformation, you can read about it on her blog. Her ideas spoke to me about the danger of overworking versus making a fresh start. I have often tried to make new pieces on top of old samples and all I got was a struggle made visible.

The new panels in my studio, finished last week.

The new panels in my studio, finished last week.

This time, I sandblasted across the glass backgrounds with star/flower shapes, as if embroidering figures across a patterned and pleated fabric ground. The yellow ground got pink details, the pink ground got yellow and a fantastic rich amber made from a mix of enamels. You can see the depth of the old lines under the surface of the glass in the details below. 

WM in Wimbledon by Sasha Ward

Although I like to imagine William Morris walking through Wimbledon when he went from his house in Hammersmith to his works at Merton Park by foot, that is not really the subject of this piece.

In the background of my parents' lives and my childhood in Wimbledon were William Morris designs. The earliest one I remember is Marigold in olive green on the sitting room walls, it looked very good with the tartan sofa the great aunts are sitting on (below) and with my tartan dress. When I saw the Marigold design used on the cover of Volume II of WM's Collected Letters last year, the memory made me shiver.

Dagmar, Clara and Norah (the great aunts)                                                   Sasha - Marigold wallpaper designed by WM, 1875

Dagmar, Clara and Norah (the great aunts)                                                   Sasha - Marigold wallpaper designed by WM, 1875

The photograph below of my mother's best friend Inge and a dog visiting her top floor flat in Wimbledon for tea is quite a recent one. It would be fantastic even without Pimpernel on the sloping wall - this wallpaper has lasted for as many years as I can remember.

Dog and Inge - Pimpernel wallpaper designed by WM, 1876

Dog and Inge - Pimpernel wallpaper designed by WM, 1876

Chrysanthemum, seen on the chair below, is not such a favourite of mine. Maybe it's because the fabric on this chair deteriorated over the years, ending up completely hidden by shawls and cushions covered in oriental patterns. Shoving lots of different patterns together is something I am quite used to.

Ray and Kate - Chrysanthemum fabric designed by WM, 1877

Ray and Kate - Chrysanthemum fabric designed by WM, 1877

I found countless pictures of family members around the dining room table with the Golden Lily curtains in the background. When I brought home my college stained glass panel "Dual Carriageway" in 1985 (below right), where better to put it than next to another set of rich, clashing patterns. The stained glass remained, then moved house with my mother, but the curtains soon went and were turned into drapes for other armchairs.

Peter, Elizabeth, Kate - Golden Lily fabric designed by J.H. Dearle for Morris and Company, 1899

Peter, Elizabeth, Kate - Golden Lily fabric designed by J.H. Dearle for Morris and Company, 1899

Glass Network Questions by Sasha Ward

Today "Glass Network", the quarterly magazine of The Contemporary Glass Society arrived - here is my page. The questions I wrote about in this piece may be familiar to people who work to commission, or to those who have read my posts from Kelmscott Manor when the questions most frequently asked by visitors were spinning in my head.

Patchwork Windows by Sasha Ward

Cirencester Parish Church

I think I've found my favourite patchwork window ever, particularly the top left hand face that I spotted across the complicated interior of Cirencester Parish Church. It made me realise that it's the juxtaposition of images as much as the pattern making that is so appealing about these windows. My previous favourite was the one in Hereford Cathedral (below), where a hand skilled in design put together the section about Joseph's dream.

Pages from the Hereford Cathedral stained glass brochure (click to enlarge)

I've also admired windows put together by artists, like the one at Ripon Cathedral (below), featuring Kempe figures surrounded by beautiful Bridget Jones patterns in blue and sharp yellow. It has a huge impact from a distance and the modern glass is just as lovely as the old.

Pages from the Ripon Cathedral stained glass brochure (click to enlarge)

Although I occasionally make sheets of patterned glass to cut up for patchwork windows as if it were fabric, I really consider this to be cheating. My glass scrap boxes are full of pieces made as samples or ones that broke during manufacture. The birds below were fired in my first ever kiln for my first public commission. I don't know why they kept breaking - the result was a whole extra window.

My bird window, 1986

My bird window, 1986