Conserved Geoffrey Clarke panels installed at the Stained Glass museum
In 2014, YGT embarked on the conservation of four panels by the artist Geoffrey Clarke (1924-2014), which had recently been purchased by the Stained Glass Museum in Ely. Three of our student interns at that time, Merlyn Griffiths, Tom Vowden and Maxine Allen worked on these rare and experimental panels. Having received them in a somewhat unstable condition, they carefully conserved the vastly different panels in order to display them in the museum. The Curator, Dr. Jasmine Allen, established a blog where the students wrote articles about the conservation processes they undertook, which can still be viewed online.
On 9th April 2016, both Nick Teed (ACR) and Merlyn travelled from York to Ely for the official opening of the Private View of the panels. The evening began with welcome from Dr. Allen and Elizabeth Stazicker, and was followed a series of short lectures. The first was given by Judith LeGrove, Art Historian and author of Geoffrey Clarke: A Decade of Change (2013) and Geoffrey Clarke Printmaker: A Sculptor’s Prints (2012), who spoke about the life and work of the artist. Nick followed this with an insightful paper about the conservation of the panels at YGT, and the challenges and triumphs that were faced in the process.
Finally, the Private view was opened by Loyd Grossman CBA FSA.
The evening culminated in the museum, where the panels can now be viewed alongside the vast array of glass on show. All four of the Clarke panels have a particularly experimental and beautifully handmade quality. Priest, St Sebastian and Fragment are all installed in bespoke frames at ground level, and so can be viewed, and appreciated at close hand. St Anthony is a much larger and longer piece and is installed at a higher level, near the entrance to the gallery. This panel was manufactured using layers of glass, making it especially hard to see the image within without strong transmitted light. Now it has been installed in the gallery with a bespoke LED lightsheet behind it, and suddenly the deep blue tones have come alive, and the figure of this Saint can be seen for the first time in half a decade.
This project was a true pleasure for YGT to be involved in, and the celebration in Ely was a fitting way to acknowledge this acquisition, and to celebrate Clarke’s life.
The panels are on permanent display in the gallery, which is located in The South Triforium of Ely Cathedral, open Monday-Saturday 10:30-17:00 (Last Admission 16:30), and Sunday 12:00-16:00 (Last Admission 16:00). More information about the museum can be found on the Stained Glass Museum website.