I think I mentioned before that I have recently joined a group that calls itself The International Quilt Challenge group. Our second challenge which is due for completion and reveal on 25 November is titled 'Through The Window' and I have been giving it a lot of thought over the past few weeks. My immediate, and probably obvious, first thought was 'Through the round window.....' as in Play School.
Similar to the last challenge, as soon as you start thinking about windows you see them everywhere (well, they are aren't they?) and you start thinking about every interpretation of 'through' and 'window'. A window to the past, a window through time, windows of the soul, window of opportunity, looking in through the window, looking out through the window. Window - an opening allowing a connection between one space and another, light pours in through the window, a surface that reflects light and its surroundings. A window can be many shapes; it can be clear, frosted, reinforced, mottled, distorted, etched, of many colours.
An abstract painting that I made on the subject of looking back through time which was made with a window cut from a photograph incorporated into layers of torn watercolour paper with crayon marks added and manipulated in Photoshop.
Inevitably, and to cut a long story short for the moment, my thoughts turned to stained glass windows, which I love for the light that they allow to pass into the room. The window above is part of the stained glass in Chester Cathedral and I have used part of it previously in a watercolour sketch (still need to find that).
In our local parish church we have a beautiful stained glass window by John Hayward entitles Christ Walks on the Water. With the Quilt Artist's eye that I now have I can see several ways of interpreting this window.
Over the years, and particularly in the past these stained glass windows were a way through which people who could not read learned the Bible stories. Over the years stained glass windows have become more abstract and convey their meaning in other ways.
As a way of finding my way into this challenge I thought I would play about with cut through fabrics, especially after reading an item by Naomi Renouf in the June 2010 issue of Workshop on the Web that I found on my computer.
I've started by layering scraps of fabrics onto a background and securing them under a layer of organza with stitching running at right angles to the run of the fabrics. Subsequently I cut through the channels deciding as I went along how far down to cut.
The next step is to machine at right angles to the first lines of stitch opening up and catching down each cut layer to reveal what lies beneath. (detail above)
I am quite pleased with the result so far. I feel it has some of the movement in the window in St Wulfram's church and I am excited to work it on a larger scale.
I have been trying to decide whether this would work with a more transparent feel to it so that light can actually shine through and I've made a further piece but have not achieved that transparnecy yet. Once you start thinking and looking there are a lot of ways of interpreting (light) through the window and I'm glad I've got a few more weeks to work on this project.
I have been trying to track down a link to a programme that brought home to me the power of stained glass some time ago and I can't find it. I think it was a clip of (?Rolf Harris/Michael Palin?) in a chapel with stained glass windows designed I think by Chagall or maybe Matisse. My overriding memory is of the presenter standing in the chapel with light from the window pouring over his fingers like water. For some reason the image took my breath away and brought a lump to my throat. Such is the power of light through a window.