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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Coventry Kids & A Picture of Faith

Back in 1962, the schoolchildren of Coventry donated their pocket money to help fund a 70ft stained glass window in the new Cathedral. Last Saturday the authors (Diana Coulter and Bob Smith) of a new book about Keith New (the artist of the window) invited the original Cov Kids, who are now in their sixties to early seventies (and probably have children/or grandchildren of their own!) to reunite.

The event was a great success with a terrific turnout, many of whom wanted to be involved in similar events in the future. Many of those who came, while they may not have been to the Cathedral for many many years, were moved by "their window in their Cathedral."

Over the past four years Diana Coulter and Robert Smith have been researching the stained glass of Keith New, one of the three-man team who designed the nave windows at Coventry Cathedral. New (1926–2012) was a significant pioneering British modernist stained glass artist in the 1950s and 1960s.

Coulter and Smith have published their monograph Keith New: British Modernist in Stained Glass with Sansom, a Bristol-based publisher specialising art and design of the 20th century onwards. This is the first monograph devoted to his work. It examines New’s career in the first part, while the second part comprises a comprehensive catalogue of his stained glass.

New’s career was launched with the 1952 Royal College of Art’s commission to design the nave windows for Basil Spence’s Coventry Cathedral. The three-man team, led by Lawrence Lee, included Geoffrey Clarke, another pioneer in the medium. Each artist designed three windows. The commission brought New to the attention of other prominent architects, including Robert Matthew and Denys Lasdun, as well as artists and critics like John Piper and John Betjeman, and resulted in many commissions for churches either in post-war rebuilds or in medieval buildings.

Also at Coventry Cathedral currently is 'Graham Sutherland: Beneath the Tapestry', a curation of works that inspired and helped develop the iconic tapestry that hangs in Coventry Cathedral.

As part of Basil Spence’s ground-breaking design for the New Coventry Cathedral (consecrated 1962), he commissioned several high-profile artists to create new works. One of the most significant works included in his design was to be a tapestry, depicting Christ in Glory, to be hung behind the altar in the new Cathedral. Spence invited Sutherland to produce designs for Coventry Cathedral’s iconic tapestry - beginning a 10 year collaboration that resulted in one of the world’s largest modern tapestries, Christ in Glory in the Tetramorph that now sits at the very heart of this special space.

Precentor and Vice-Provost at Coventry Cathedral, Michael Sadgrove declares these years (1987-1995) amongst the best years of his life. The Cathedral is where he wrote his first book, 'A Picture of Faith'. The book's theme was Graham Sutherland's Tapestry of 'Christ in Glory' and took a look a the piece not so much as a work of art, but as an icon for meditation. In his lecture last Saturday, he revisited some of the book's themes and asked, from a personal perspective, how it continues to speak today, a quarter of a century later.


The Brilliance - Yahweh.

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