I spent the afternoon at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery today and am so glad I did because I did need to get out of the flat for a bit.
The impetus for my visit was their St Andrew’s Day lecture, Scotland’s Stained Glass. I know it sounds a bit boring but I like stained glass so it was fascinating to me. (And as it was a packed house, it must be a fascinating topic for others, too.)
The lecture was given by Michael Donnelly, the leading authority of Scottish stained glass from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and began with a brief history of the nation’s stained glass which included a look at medieval glass techniques and the destruction of Scotland’s stained glass during the Reformation. (In fact, there is only one pre-Reformation window found in its original location in Scotland, found at the Magdalen Chapel.)
[Side note: Apparently, medieval glassmakers sometimes used urine as part of the painting and firing process. Yuck!]
When Scottish artisans re-started the craft of stained glass in the early 19th century, they had no examples on hand for inspiration so had to travel to England and Europe to look at early pieces, then they had to recreate the methods through trial and error. But they figured it out and have made quite an impressive new collection of beautiful stained glass.
The slideshow that went along with the lecture gave examples of several Scottish artists and I happily took notes as the speaker went along so that I knew which artists I’d want to learn more about. I smiled when he spoke of Daniel Cottier, an artist who imposed his own image when depicting others in his work. I was in awe at the works he shared by William Morris, and I was filled with joy when he showed a picture of a piece by WG Morton. And, of course, I was delighted to see Morton’s contemporary, Charles Rennie MacIntosh get a mention or three. You know, because he’s awesome.
But you don’t want a long, drawn-out recap of the lecture, so instead, I’ll just point you to a couple of resources to learn more if you’re inclined:
Scotland’s Stained Glass website – which includes a couple of PDF books for you to download (for non-commercial use only)
The People’s Palace website – the building houses a large collection of post-Reformation glass that has been salvaged from derelict and demolished buildings
Anyhow, I’m still feeling a bit down from yesterday, and had to force myself to go to the lecture instead of staying in feeling sorry for myself. It hasn’t solved my sorrows, but it was enjoyable. Which is always good.