Irish stained glass; then and now
March 11 2016
For centuries, Irish craftspeople and artisans have created unique objects in precious metals, stone and wood that have shaped a distinctive visual narrative and contributed to our rich cultural heritage. While stained glass does not have a similarly long history (there appears to be no evidence of it being made in Ireland before the eighteenth century) artists who worked in this medium in more recent times, especially throughout the Celtic Revival, have also given us a valuable legacy. Harry Clarke is perhaps the best-known Irish stained glass artist (incidentally his story is featured in the RTE series, Fire in the Blood on Monday night March 14) but lets not forget Sarah Purser, who established An Túr Gloine in 1903, her contemporary Wilhelmina Geddes and the abstract painter Evie Hone.
One hundred years on, it’s wonderful to see makers employ traditional stained glass techniques to investigate contemporary themes. Peter Martin, a graduate of the Contemporary Applied Art degree course at CIT Crawford College of Art and Design is one such maker. His work investigates the atmospheres and architecture of the urban environment. Drawing on the visual potentials of stained glass, his works explore, and intensify, subconscious sentiment and attitudes toward our built environs. They are representations of how our passages and journeys through the city become part of us and how we, through these interactions, become part of the fabric of the city itself.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to include Peter Martin’s work in the forthcoming YOUNG II exhibition at SO Fine Art Editions, Dublin. This exhibition series provides a platform to emerging artists and makers working in a variety of disciplines including fine art print and ceramics; isn’t it good to see stained glass included on the list?