Project Development

Vanishing History – St. Hilda’s College Chapel


A visit to St. Hilda’s College Chapel became more urgent than was expected on hearing of its planned demolition within weeks.  It was relieving to discover that there were only two stained glass windows (six lights) within the chapel, eased further by being granted open access to photograph them.  Weather conditions today were perfect: bright, but over cast, the windows were clean and at head height.  This had the makings of a straightforward, yet very poignant photo shoot.  It transpired that I would be the first and last person to photograph (specifically) these windows.

At first glance all looked good and while the two windows were a little too modern in appearance for my liking, each told a clear and simple story.  My initial placement shot revealed the first difficulty:  The stained glass stood in front of much older panelled windows with the panels and window furniture clearly visible:DCP_6475 ce low res

However, head-on, the full horror story became evident…

image1 ce low resEverything could be seen through these stained glass windows.  Even shooting at f/1.2 could not mask the red Ford Focus.

Notwithstanding, I completed the capture of a full set of images, albeit rather car-oriented.  However, I have now entered into delicate negotiations with the College, in order to be granted access to the windows once they have been removed from the chapel, with the hope of photographing them clutter-free.  If my plan comes to fruition, I have only to worry about where I might place the six lights to capture them against a backlit, neutral white background.

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