Author Archives: melhowse

Art Glass Facade for Birdham.

This Summer has been packed with making artwork, getting new projects moving forward and installing designs now made real.

Some of these commissions have been in the planning for a number of years, and so I am elated that construction works at St James Church in Birdham, Sussex have started on site, with a brave and beautiful new extension designed by architect Richard Meynell. I am commissioned to create 24m2 of art glass work for the entirety of the new East elevation. The architectural art has been designed to compliment the architect’s design, and the vision for the glass design was created as an integral part of this scheme’s development since 2012. So there is great excitement that the project is underway and, as ever, my approach is unconventional and will bathe the interior of the building in light.

 

The Lord Mayor of London: Stained Glass Coat of Arms Unveiled

I was delighted to be asked by The Worshipful Company of Painter Stainers, to create in stained glass the coat of arms of the Lord Mayor of London Andrew Parmley.

The stained glass panel features the motto ‘Deus Tibi Parmula Fortis’ which maybe translated as ‘God is a strong shield to you’. The scallop shell also appears in the design, representing St James of Compostella, Patron Saint of St James Garlickhythe where Andrew Parmley has been the organist for over 30 years. Another notable feature are two blue cats above the helm, symbols of natural strength, agility, wisdom and learning.

The window is installed in the Great Hall at Painters Hall in London, where it was unveiled by the Lord Mayor on 25th May 2017 at The Barnett Dinner celebrations.

The new coat of arms, of The Lord Mayor of London, Andrew Parmley. Unveiled on 25th May 2017.

The new coat of arms, of The Lord Mayor of London, Andrew Parmley. Unveiled on 25th May 2017.

New Work in Enamelled Steel for St Cuthbert’s, Portsmouth.

In March 2017 I spent a concentrated and inventive time working on a new commission for an enamelled steel reredos at St Cuthbert’s Church in Copnor, Portsmouth.

This is my second commission from St Cuthbert’s, and the reredos was commissioned to match our ‘Vortex’ font completed in 2013.  The visual combination of the decorative backdrop, and the sculpted font will create a brave and unique coupling, bringing the visual centre of the worship space to the altar.

The reredos, measuring 2.5m wide x 5m high, was created during an intense period of creativity at A J Wells & Sons.  Wells created some beautiful bespoke colours for the piece which were a delight to use. I worked the enamels for long hours between firings, in order to realise this complex composition.  My time at the factory culminated in a visit from the client who, I think it is fair to say, were amazed and elated at the scale and finish of the artwork that had unfolded.

It is always a joy to bring a concept to life; and the challenge of wrestling the composition and colour into submission at full scale is also creatively thrilling.

The reredos is finally lifted into position by the installation team.

The reredos is finally lifted into position by the installation team.

 

Paul Nash (1889 – 1946) Tate Britain

We are nearing the end of a quite magnificent exhibition at Tate Britain.

I have been influenced by the painter Paul Nash since a teenager when I discovered a family link to him, so the chance to experience this extensive collection of his life’s work was a delight. The exhibition sets out a complete artistic life, with all the changes in creative style and ideas, that that brought forth.

Concepts that threaded through his career included: flight, the personality of inanimate objects, and the ‘genius loci’ or spirit of a place. He was also a war artist.

I first saw Nash’s work at Pallant House, Chichester in the late 1980’s. As a teenager looking for a creative path I was struck that Nash had managed to make a living out of his art. His painting was meaningful, and good enough to be publicly displayed. He was brave enough to put forward new ideas which made an impact on British Modernism, and he became a leading figure in British Surrealism.

The first time I engaged with Nash’s painting was a pivotal moment for me. Indeed it influenced my need to enter a field of art where my work would be functional and spacial, both aesthetically and physically. Nash’s often abstracted portrayal of the ‘unseen’ was mysterious and inspirational to my vivid imagination.

Paul Nash embraced many areas of design in his time. He explored designs for interiors and architecture, and discussed his views on the modern aesthetic in ‘Room and Book’ his publication of 1932. In it he champions the designs of Robert Adam as having the vision to create perfect harmony. In his chapter on Modern English Furniture he talks at length about the Omega Workshops and the degeneration of this design style into factory products. He also says ’The desire for a definite harmony of forms and colours and textures is more and more apparent. It is in the expression of this desire – however inadequate it may be – that I see a groping for that thread that still links us with tradition. We are searching, not for old styles, but for the principles of our past that we may create a new thing’.

My feeling is that had Paul Nash lived to take his art and into further new mediums, and to greater scales, he would have enjoyed it very much. We can but marvel at what he achieved in such a short time, during and between world wars.

A design for block printed linen in four colours - a Paul Nash design from 'Room and Book' 1932

A design for block printed linen in four colours – Paul Nash from ‘Room and Book’ 1932

' The Modern Aesthetic' Chapter 1. Room and Book written by Paul Nash and published in 1932.

‘ The Modern Aesthetic’ Chapter 1. ‘Room and Book’ 1932.

New year, New build.

2017 is getting off to a fresh and exciting start as I work on a facade installation for Otford Methodist Church in Kent.

The state of the art new church has been designed by Clague Architects, and includes an enamelled south facing window. The design will be uplifting, forward thinking, and facing into the community.

Construction in progress at Otford Methodist Church.

Construction in progress at Otford Methodist Church.

Looking at 2016

2016 was quite a year for my portfolio, both in terms of work that was made, and designs created for the future.

It was wonderful to see a number of commissions we had been planning over the last few years come to fruition, becoming the projection of the glasswork they were meant to be.

Encouragement was gratefuly received in 2016 from the Sussex Heritage Trust with their Building Crafts Award.

Also a major commission came from Durham Cathedral for a new contemporary stained glass window. There is great anticipation as I continue to work on this project towards 2018.

Architectural installations that were completed in 2016 included:
– an elevated etched screen for St Michael’s in Betchworth, Surrey
– two pairs of carved doors for St Peter and St Paul in Rustington, Sussex,
– three doors with carved designs for Holy Trinity in Fareham, Hampshire,
– a collection of artworks including enamelled steel – stained glass, etching and enamelling, which form a new prayer room for St Paul’s in Chichester, Sussex.

As ever, working with and for others was very enjoyable. Look out for the photos of the new work on the website in the coming months.

In the drawing studio: The Betchworth Screen.

In the drawing studio: The Betchworth Screen.

Working at full scale: The Rustington Doors.

Working at full scale on The Rustington Doors at Hourglass.

Stirring up the colour for St Paul's Chichester.

Stirring up the colour for St Paul’s Chichester.

A peek in the dryer. Working at Wells and Sons. Making the reredos for St Paul's Chichester.

A peek in the dryer! Working at Wells and Sons. Making the reredos for St Paul’s Chichester.

Durham Cathedral: New Cathedral Window for 2018

I am pleased to announce that I have been commissioned by Durham Cathedral to design and make a new window for Durham Cathedral. Spiritually the Cathedral is one of Britain’s most important buildings, and this UNESCO World Heritage site is architecturally considered to be one of our most important buildings, with 700,000 visitors a year.

The new window is in design as we speak. It is in memorial to Sara Pilkington who was a student at the University at Durham. As such it will be contemporary, youthful and full of energy: being worked by my hand from design through to the glass.

The north-facing window is the last clear window in the series of stained glass windows that encapsulates the high altar and the Shrine of St Cuthbert, and is 21ft tall x 12ft wide (6.6m x 3.6m).

I am very excited about this project, and as a contemporary glass artist I am delighted to have the opportunity to put modern work into such a noteworthy building. I am also humbled, as the new window will reside alongside the Shrine of St Cuthbert where the saint is buried.

Installation is planned for 2018.

Please read the press release from Durham Cathedral.

Durham Cathedral Window media release

Mel Howse outside Durham Cathedral

Mel Howse outside Durham Cathedral

Beautiful and ancient: The High Altar Durham Cathedral

Beautiful and ancient: The High Altar Durham Cathedral

From design through all the processes of creating the art in glass. Mel Howse working on one of the panels for The Betchworth Screen, installed in the spring of 2016.

From design through all the processes of creating the art in glass. Mel Howse working on one of the panels for The Betchworth Screen, installed in the spring of 2016.

Sussex Heritage Trust – Awards for Friese Greene House, Hove

We are delighted that Friese Greene House was presented with two awards this week from the Sussex Heritage Trust.

At the 2016 Awards ceremony on Thursday 7th July, Conran and Partners received the Large Scale Residential Award for their architectural design which enhances the character of Portland Road in Hove.

Our glass installation, ‘Successions of Light’ received the Building Crafts Award.

To date this mixed-use development scheme by Affinity Sutton Homes, has gained three awards. This is wonderful recognition for those involved in the project, and for the local residents who live there and use the building.

Thank you Sussex Heritage Trust.

Portland Road for Mel Howse. Copyright Sam Laughlin 2016

Portland Road for Mel Howse. Copyright Sam Laughlin 2016

Portland Road for Mel Howse. Copyright Sam Laughlin 2016

Portland Road for Mel Howse. Copyright Sam Laughlin 2016

 

The Stevens Competition : The Worshipful Company of Glaziers.

Earlier this June I saw the prize giving ceremony for the 2016 Stevens Competition run by The Worshipful Company of Glaziers. The competition has been running for over thirty years and is an important marker for those studying stained glass, and in early practice.

It was a privilege to re-visit the competition as a judge alongside Helen Whittaker, Alex R and Martin Donlin. It was also a poignant experience as I myself won the competition in 1991 whilst a student at Swansea Architectural Glass Department.

The quality of the work submitted was high and very varied in style. The event was expanded into a seminar that gave entrants the opportunity to see shortlisted designs, and to hear the thoughts of the judges. It was a positive, round discussion that it is hoped it will inspire good design, thoughtful presentation, and quality craft skills.

In 1991, during my own submission to The Stevens Competition, I recall working on a one-to-one scale cartoon for a brief that encompassed a memorial to Sir Lawrence Olivier. The resulting design was a progression of the photographed cartoon reduced to 1:10 scale.  It was a useful experience that enabled me to look closely at the relationship between all parts of the creative process. Bearing in mind that at that time we did not work on the computer, photography proved a useful tool.

You can see more about the 2016 Steven Competition here:

http://www.worshipfulglaziers.com/?page_id=3147

 

Hourglass

The last seven years have been a unique creative opportunity for me as a designer and maker.

I have had the opportunity to develop my work, and interpretation of my designs alongside Peter Collins and the team at Hourglass Uk.

Adding to years of working alone in my own British glass studio, then treading the boards of commercial studios abroad, I have progressed by also drawing on industrial glass processes here in Britain. This symbiosis is made possible at the invitation of Peter Collins, inspired to suggest that I work along side them at the Hourglass factory.

The projects I have been working on have been able to take a fresh, positive approach to working in glass, which has sometimes eluded the ‘architectural art glass’ industry. In three decades it has felt that we have not progressed very far.

Contemporary glass needs industry to help it move forward, alongside the ideas of artists and designers.

Hourglass have just launched their website:

http://www.hourglass.uk.com/