Project Development

Three dimensions?

Outside access to the Chapel of St. Nicholas windows is not easy, so I have never DCP_5730 ce lrpreviously viewed them from that perspective.  However, closer examination of one of the windows dew me to venturing outside.  It appeared that the glass was layered.  Certainly not immediately obvious, but there are sections that clearly have more than one layer of stained glass, producing a three dimensional feel that is most apparent on this tiled floor section from ‘The Lord is my refuge and fortress’.  However, trying to photograph this effect as intended, is close to impossible.  The best I could manage was to demonstrate that there is a lower layer of lead.

From the outside, such features are evident on only two of the four accessible windows, but are significantly more obvious (and more abundant DCP_5720 e lrthose windows than is apparent from the inside).  Some of the double layers are in vivid, dark coloured locations – perhaps two layers of glass are necessary to achieve the deep blues, for example (although it is worth noting that not all vivid blues areas are double-layered).

Seen in its entirety from the outside, with the benefit of some highlighting, the images below show the extent of the double-layering.  When overlaid with a mirror image of the edited window, it is clear that this feature exists only in the darker areas or vivid colour.

IMG_2823 e cut out lr  IMG_2823 e cut out (with reverse view) lr

UPDATE: November 25, 2018

Further research reveals this process to be ‘plating‘ – a stained glass technique perfected by L.C. Tiffany in the early 1900’s.  Plating is the process of layering glass, one piece over another, to create shadows, contour and add depth to compositions.

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  • Apse – the often domed, semi-circular or polygonal east end where the altar is located.
  • Calme or Came – Strip of lead H shaped to hold the pieces of glass together, from the Latin calamus, meaning reed.
  • Cartoon – A full size drawing of the design for a stained glass window.
  • Cinquefoil – A five lobed shape.
  • Design – See Vidimus.
  • Diaper – A decorative pattern applied using glass paint to enhance the glass surface.
  • Enamel – A technique developed in the late C15 to allow colours to be painted on to glass.
  • Ferramenta – The metal framework (iron, aluminium, copper, brass) fixed into the masonry to hold panels of stained glass.
  • Flashing – Application of a thin coat of coloured glass on to clear glass – most reds are flashed.
  • Grisaille – Clear or grey glass often decorated with foliage design
  • Grozing – A method of shaping the edges of pieces of glass to the right size using a metal tool known as a grozing iron.
  • Lancet – Tall, narrow windows with a sharp pointed arch at the top.
  • Light – The vertical division of a window.
  • Medallion – Circular panel of several pieces of glass leaded together.
  • Mullion – Upright stone section of a window. Divides the window into a number of lights.
  • Narthex – An antechamber at the western entrance of some churches, separated from the nave by a screen.
  • Nave – the central part of a church building, intended to accommodate most of the congregation.
  • Needlework – Fine relieving done with a needle or sharp instrument, scratching out.
  • Panel – An element of a stained glass window, generally no more than 1m square.  A single windows is, as a rule, made of several panels.
  • Plating – The doubling up of glass by the attachment of an additional layer, held together within a single lead. This can be part of an artistic technique, used as a means of modifying or intensifying colour or texture, or can be used as a protective measure during conservation.
  • Relieving – The removal of paint from the surface of the glass prior to firing, to allow light to come through; methods include needlework and stickwork.
  • Rinceau – Foliage design usually used as a background.
  • Rose – Round windows that often have elaborate tracery and lots of decorated stained glass. They are usually facing the altar.
  • Roundel –  A unipartite panel, generally round, bearing a self-contained design.
  • Quarry – (from French carré, square): a small pane of glass, usually diamond-shaped.  Imitation quarries are glass panels that have lead lines painted on them to simulate the appearance of quarries.
  • Quatrefoil – Windows with four petal shaped sections.
  • Stanchion – A vertical support bar set into the masonry, internally or externally (or both). Used in conjunction with Support Bars, which sometimes have eyes through which a stanchion can pass.
  • Stickwork – Relieving done with the end of a brush or blunt instrument, picking out.
  • Support Bar or Saddle Bar – A bar set horizontally into the masonry, to which stained glass panels are tied with lead or copper ties, supporting and preventing panels from flexing out of the vertical plane.
  • Tie Bar – See Support Bar or Saddle Bar.
  • Tracery – Ornamental stone openwork, typically in the upper part of a Gothic window.
  • Tracery Lights – The small, often ornate openings at the top of a window.
  • Trefoil – Windows with three petal shaped sections.
  • Vestibule – See Narthex.
  • Vidimus – Before the cartoon was drawn, preliminary sketches would be made to show what the finished windows would look like so the design could be approved. The approved design was the Vidimus.  The approved design of a window, before the cartoon is made.  Latin for “we have seen”.

Project Development

The waiting game….

I have started the process of contacting the next batch of Oxford Colleges, seeking permission to photograph within their chapels and was delighted to receive an instant response from the Chaplain of one, but the details were not quite so pleasing…

The Queen’s College require all such requests to be referred to their Governing Body for approval.  This requires me to submit a formal ‘Photography Request Form’ upon which they will cogitate.  It is likely that this will happen at their next meeting… on 17 October.  50 days before I might know if they are happy for me to photograph their stained glass windows!

Project Development

Chapel of St. Edmund – Planning visit

St. Edmund Hall was somewhat of an enigma: why does it have its own chapel when its library is housed in a former church, listed in the Domesday Book?  Request to photograph the chapel was directed, as always, at the chaplain Revd Will Donaldson, who was prompt in accepting my request, but also directed my request to photograph the library (St. Peter-in-the-East) to the new librarian.

With each of the chapels varying so greatly, the preliminary visits are so important, affording time to plan which windows might work best and allowing me to decide which lens or lenses are most appropriate for the eventual shoot.  Additionally, it forms the starting point of important background research into the history of each chapel: something that will prove invaluable when I start work on the guide that will accompany the portfolio.

Supper at Emmaus

The supper at Emmaus (Ceri Richards, 1958) Chapel of St. Edmund

The Chapel of St. Edmund really was small.  Built by Stephen Penton and consecrated in 1682, it is famous for the painting ‘The supper at Emmaus’ by Ceri Richards that hangs over the altar and is also well known for the stained-glass window on the east side that was constructed and designed by William Morris and Edward-Burne Jones.

A 3D tour of the chapel proved a useful starting point, but revealed little of the detail of the stained glass windows.  In addition to an impressive East Window, the chapel boasts four pairs of lights, each depicting a saint.  On visiting, it became apparent that some lights where unevenly lit as a result of shadows cast by nearby buildings and trees.  Indeed, one pair of lights is only visible from the organ loft and it is hidden behind the organ – as such it is impossible to photograph in any meaningful way.

The diminutive size of the chapel is quite an issue as I may find that a 90mm lens will be too powerful for photographing the lights in the north and south walls, and anything smaller may result in increased distortion.  As it is, the height of the windows will necessitate photography at an angle, leading to converging verticals that will lessen the image quality through post production digital correction.  The East Windows seems the most sensible choice for photography as it affords the greatest distance, by using the full length of the nave. , but its relatively old  age for a pre-Raphaelite window gives it a rather uncared-for appearance compared with those created in the late 1890’s and beyond.

Project Development

St. Peter’s-in-the-East – Planning visit

A window of opportunity enabled me to return to St. Edmund Hall today, for a preliminary visit to their library (formerly St. Peter’s-in-the-East), having secured provisional permission to take photographs, thanks to the support of James Howarth, Librarian at St. Edmund Hall.

While technically a church, as it is deconsecrated and forms part of the St. Edmund Hall campus, I am happy to include reference to it within my research project.

St. Peter-in-the-East is said to be named after the church of S. Pietro in Vincoli in Rome and is named in the Domesday Book (c.1085). It was used as the student chapel for St. Edmund Hall until the chapel was built on the College grounds in 1682.  The church was closed as a place of worship in 1965 and reopened as the College library in 1970.

Once again, aided by a 3D tour of the former church prior to the visit, I was prepared for some of the surprise that was in store… photography can be difficult enough within chapels when only having to negotiate pews, however in a building now filled with bookcases, tables and computer desks, this location will prove quite demanding.  To further confound things, I will only be allowed to photograph the site outside the Oxford University term dates.  This is likely to result in the work not forming part of my Module 3 portfolio.

Notwithstanding, I set about surveying the numerous windows – all magnificently cleaned and restored in readiness for the church becoming the library of St. Edmund Hall.  The location of furniture presents quite a headache for most lines of sight.  I am most optimistic about my chances in photographing the East Window, however, this is likely to necessitate me mounting my tripod on desk – something that may be frowned upon in a library.

Detail information about and from guide book here.

Images to follow.

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The Chapel of St. Edmund

Possibly the smallest chapel in Oxford, St. Edmund Hall’s chapel was consecrated for use in 1682 and dedicated to St Edmund.  The stained glass windows were installed a couple of centuries later by Messrs Clayton and Bell.  Sadly, where photography is concerned, choice over stained glass windows was limited: much of the glass suffered from close proximity to other buildings or dense foliage, making it incredibly dark, or resulting in a mottled appearance.

DCP_8561 (low res)The east window was work of the famous artists and designers, Sir Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, and was inserted in 1865. It is the earliest example in Oxford of their stained glass work. The arrangement of the window was designed by Philip Webb, who also designed the pattern work. Fortunately, the main light within the East Window (by Burne-Jones) was lit uniformly and lent itself to convenient shooting, as there was the full length of the nave to use.

The east window demonstrated very high contrast, with significant area proving difficult to resolve in anything more than black.  It is also a window that has not been cleaned recently, showing much build-up of dark grime.

St. Edmund Hall - Ecce Agnus Dei (cut out) UPDATED PNG (low res)

Crucifixion (Edward Burne-Jones, 1865) The Chapel of St. Edmund

Ecce Agnus Dei qui tollit peccata mundi
Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!
John 1:29

Shot at 220mm, using the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, at the now standard aperture of f/8.0, there was only a small amount of perspective distortion to correct in the final image.

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Mansfield College Chapel – Planning visit

Today was due to be a reconnaissance visit to Mansfield College Chapel, but as I was travelling to the neighbouring Harris Manchester College to photograph the east window, despite the less than ideal lighting conditions (bright, clear blue sky) it seemed sensible to attempt some photography.

IMG_3543 ce (lr)

The Victorian Gothic chapel is one of the largest in Oxford and is now a multi-function space.  The college chapel is unconsecrated, and contains stained glass windows and statues depicting leading figures from Nonconformist movements, including Cromwell, Sir Henry Vane and William Penn.  Chapel services are still conducted in a Nonconformist tradition, with an evening service each Wednesday.  It is routinely used as a dining hall – indeed on my visit I was being set up for a significant banquet.

The chapel is aligned almost north-south and with harsh sunlight pouring through the west windows, precluded them from being photographed.  However, the light was more sympathetic on the east wall, where there were a number of low-level windows, sadly, most of these were partially obscured by internal fittings and furnishings stacked within the chapel in addition to receiving unbalanced lighting thanks to foliage outside.

IMG_3536 (lr)

The south windows, while very high,  benefitted from having the full length of the chapel to help minimise angles and converging verticals.  Additionally, the pews at the north end (shown above) afforded some additional height.

While I do have the appropriate kit with me, I imagine that a follow-up visit may be sensible on a day with more sympathetic lighting.

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New College Chapel – Planning visit

In my mind, my intention in New College Chapel was to photograph the Great West window from the organ loft.  However, the brilliant afternoon sunshine was streaming through the west end making such work impractical, so I opted to soak up the atmosphere while the choir was rehearsing.  My short video, recorded from the south side, does provide an idea of the enormity and expanse of the stained glass within the chapel, initially showing a glimpse of some of the ante-chapel glass, before sweeping across the five windows of the north side, with each window containing eight main lights.  The south side is similarly glazed.

© The Choir of New College (Ave verum corpus by William Byrd)

New College Chapel dates back to the fourteenth century and is one of the main choral foundations of the University of Oxford, with a choir regarded as one of the leading choirs of the world, and has recorded over one hundred albums.  It hosts some stunning stained glass that spans the centuries, with windows designed by the 18th-century portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds and contains works by Sir Jacob Epstein and El Greco.

On this visit, I was seemingly not fully focussed on the task in hand, as despite having the keys to all areas of the chapel, I failed to make observations from the organ loft and also failed to register the windows of the ante-chapel which are recently restored medieval stained glass.  In a restored state, they may be a fine choice if the lay of their surrounds proves favourable.

IMG_3566 (low res)From within the body of the chapel, it is difficult to photograph the lights as a result of their great height, so I am heavily reliant upon the organ loft providing an appropriate view of the glass at the west end, which would be best photographed in the early morning light.

I did make a point of pausing in the cloisters to capture an image – not that it is of any direct value to my Research Project. Clearly I do need another planning visit.

Project Development

Harris Manchester College Chapel – revisited

My initial visit to The Chapel of Harris Manchester College saw the East Window shrouded in protective covers while cleaning work was taking place outside.  The chapel is not typically oriented, so the east window, in this instance, is located at the rear of the chapel.

Harris Manchester is undoubtedly the most welcoming college – I am always greeted like a long-lost friend by the Porter’s Lodge, and have been accommodated without any problem, allowed to get on with my work in the most beautiful surroundings.

While I endeavour to restrict myself to just a single stained-glass window (or light) from each chapel, I keep finding myself drawn back to this chapel, which is filled with stunning work by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.

The east window was undoubtedly worth my revisit… it is impressively large, and stunning!  Sadly, and in keeping with many chapels and churches, the five main lights are all backed by protective mesh, which although subtle and almost unnoticeable to the casual observer, creates an obvious and detracting element to any photograph, even when reduced to a thumbnail…

DCP_8660 (quick edit) (low res)

The quick edit of the entire east window, above, provides just a hint of the stunning colours and design.  However, for the development of this project, I focussed most of my efforts on the top third of the window, lavishly illustrated with angels and devoid of protective mesh.

East Rose - PNG (low res).png

Teaching the Ignorant (BJ237 Edward Burne-Jones, 1896) The Chapel of Harris Manchester College

It is always a pleasure, when working on roses, not to have to remove support bars!  As a result, the editing time was quick by comparison. The image was shot at 349mm, using the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, at an aperture of f/8.0 and exposure times ranging from 1/30 s to 1/2 s.  However, I am unsure whether this image is best presented square or circular.  I committed to a square print of the west window, but rather like the appearance of this one cropped as a circle…

East Rose - cut out PNG (low res)

Project Development

University College Chapel – Planning visit

Work started on Univ Chapel in 1639.  Inspired by the Dutch artist Abraham van Linge‘s windows in the chapels of Lincoln College and Queen’s College, together with Christ Church Cathedral, eight side windows and one grand east window was commissioned.

While the side windows were finished in 1641 (van Linge’s last windows in Oxford), the English Civil War interrupted further work and it was not until after the Restoration of the Monarchy that the chapel was consecrated (20 March 1666).

The east end of the chapel was captured in a photograph by William Fox Talbot shortly before an extensive refurbishment in the 1860’s that saw the installation of a new roof and east window.  More images can be seen in The Talbot Catalogue Raisonné.

University College Chapel - Fox Talbot.jpg

William Fox Talbot (1843) University College Chapel

Unfortunately, without further permission to access the Master’s Lawn, I am unable to recreate this image perfectly, which would have been a fitting touch.  However, my image below shows the significant alterations that were made to the chapel following Fox Talbot’s photograph.  That gives me an idea for another project: In the footsteps of Fox Talbot, recreating his Oxford portfolio.  Perhaps in another life.

Univ Chapel (low res).jpg

Van Linge (lr)Permission to photograph the chapel was  a long time coming, but I was granted permission for a planning visit on 10 October, spending some time appreciating the location and considering the options.  It is probable that in keeping with my recent work in Harris Manchester, I will capture some of the smaller lights within the east window in addition to one or two larger lights.  The perennial challenge of excluding large candelabras from the photographs will be a feature here, with two at a frustratingly low-level.

Univ (lr)