Paul McCartney attends Brian Clarke’s exhibition in London

Friday, June 9, 2023
Timeline More from year 2023
Newport Street Gallery, London, United Kingdom

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From Brian Clarke : A Great Light – Newport Street Gallery:


An exhibition of works by Brian Clarke, who is widely regarded to be the most important artist working in stained glass today, will go on view at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery from 9 June 2023. A Great Light, presented by HENI, celebrates Clarke’s 70th year with an extraordinary collection of works from 2002 to the present day.

This spectacular new installation of the artist’s glass shows how flexible and wide-ranging the medium can truly be. His latest work is Ardath, a 42m2 wall of mouth-blown glass, bathing the gallery in light and colour, as flowering meadow motifs build up a rich and dense tapestry in etched glass.

Another new work, Stroud Ossuary, depicts hundreds of skulls towering some 10 metres above the visitors, with each graphically etched skull carefully placed on traditional lead lines. Other works are on a more intimate scale. His recent Kabinettscheiben are based upon his latest series of collages and drawings.

In earlier works by Clarke, visitors can meander through a gallery filled with vibrantly coloured folding screens, layering a multitude of patterns and colours. In contrast, large poignant leadworks create a contemplative environment, filled with reflection and mourning.

Large battleships and beachboys from 2002 show Clarke’s continued experimentation with method and process. Triple layered sheets of dot-matrix glass build up the translucent and transparent image of the battleship as if in a distant haze. The same process was employed on a monumental scale with architects Norman Foster and Partners on their Al Faisaliah Centre, Riyadh.

Across his five decades long career, Clarke has consistently pushed the boundaries of stained glass as a medium, both in terms of technology and its visual potential. Clarke’s vision for stained glass is fundamentally architectural, his impactful works the result of a dedicated respect for the buildings and surrounding contexts of his work. His reputation both as a painter and as an architectonic artist is based on major installation projects all over the world, as well as smaller scale, autonomous works and international exhibitions of paintings and drawings.

Image: Glass detail from Ardath, 2023 Courtesy Brian Clarke Studio

From Brian Clarke:

Coinciding with Brian Clarke’s 70th birthday, A Great Light opened at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery on 9 June 2023. The exhibition, presenting the artist’s unmatched contribution to the continuous development of the stained glass medium, includes a selection of works made since 2002.

The centrepiece of this exhibition is a spectacular large-scale glass artwork, a 42-square-metre wall of mouth-blown glass titled Ardath, meaning ‘Blooming Meadow’ in Hebrew. This installation, an expansive field of flowering meadow motifs in etched glass, bathes the gallery in light and colour. Its effect is mirrored by a wall of 210 of Clarke’s collages, uniformly framed and hung to form a vast grid, spanning the entire length of the gallery. A selection of these works is reimagined in stained glass in the large-scale ‘Tributes’ series as well as the ‘Pendants’ plinth-mounted panels. Alongside a selection of the ‘Vespers’ watercolours, and their stained glass variants, the ‘Kabinettscheiben’, these works demonstrate the vital crosspollination of Clarke’s works on paper and stained glass.

Another gallery features Clarke’s historically-inspired large stained glass artworks, HENI the Eighth and Stroud Ossuary. A haunting seven-storey-tall stained glass artwork, intended for a sixteenth-century yeoman’s house in Gloucestershire, Stroud Ossuary’s shimmering surfaces span the full height of the gallery. HENI the Eighth, a vast stained glass artwork created in a heraldic style, brings the grandeur of medieval windows to the gallery, ahead of its permanent installation at HENI Gallery in Soho, London.

These works from 2022 and 2023 are placed in conversation with stained glass from the previous 20 years of Clarke’s career: his technologically innovative screens; his iconic and controversial ‘Studies for Caryatids’, which expanded the subjects depicted in stained glass; and selections from his radically inventive leadworks, which invert the relationship of glass to lead that had remained constant throughout centuries of the medium. Together, these works demonstrate Clarke’s reimagining of the technical, visual and theoretical possibilities of stained glass, and his mastery of light and colour across media.

From Mary McCartney (@marymccartney) • Instagram photos and videos – June 14, 2023

Last updated on July 6, 2023


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