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St Mary’s Church, Bitteswell

Artist's statement +/-

“St. Mary and the Tree of Life”

St. Mary’s church in Bitteswell has been blessed with the recent building of an extension, which provides a reception room and kitchen facilities. This welcome addition affords the opportunity to place a new stained glass window in the reception area between the old and new parts of the building in memory of Miss. Cecily Gamble, a much loved parishioner of the church. In approaching this design I wanted to ensure the new stained glass window would maintain the light values within the interior. The design therefore is characterised by its use of clear antique glass in the background areas, which is balanced by the sparing use of intense colour to accentuate the details within the design. The theme of the design is ” St. Mary and the Tree of Life ” and alludes to the life of both the church of St. Mary and the village of Bitteswell, using Proverbs chapter 3 verse 18 ” She is the Tree of Life to those who embrace Her ” as my inspiration. The virtues of compassion for families, charity towards others, and a strong community spirit can be closely associated with St. Mary, the Mother of Jesus. These virtues are expressed in the community through the Victorian Almshouses in the village, and through the church by its various acts of Christian charity in the wider field.

The design has been arranged to harmonise with the adjacent lancet windows throughout the church. These original windows are fabricated in quarry antique glass, and the new design echoes these diagonal lines and continues the theme.

Left hand Lancet

St Mary’s, Bitteswell theme St Mary and the Tree of Life to left and right lancets in the hand painted stained glass

The left hand lancet represents St. Mary, the Mother of Jesus. The background colour scheme is based around a selection of blues, the sacred colour of The Virgin, and the central section of the design contains The Tree of life in rich ambers, browns and reds to allude to the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:2), which has long been associated with St. Mary. 
In Eastern Orthodox the “Unburned Bush” is understood in the theology of the church as a prefiguring of the virgin, who gave birth to the Incarnate God without suffering harm, just as the bush was burnt without being consumed. 
The top of the design contains a representation of St. Mary in the form of the Crowned letter M, and the lower section of the design contains an illustration of St. Mary’s Church and the War Memorial.

Right hand Lancet

The right hand lancet represents The Tree of Life in fruitful bloom, and alludes to the village of Bitteswell. The colour scheme is a selection of rich greens and yellows which fade to clear glass at the top and the bottom of the design. The central section contains fruits, including Pomegranates, Apples & Oranges and birds can be seen harbouring in the branches.
The upper section of the design contains a representation of Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God blessing the village below. The lower section contains illustrations of village life including the Victorian Almshouses, farming and children dancing round the May Pole, and a representation of Miss.Gamble riding her bike.
Methodology and technical specifications

The windows are to be traditionally fabricated in hand made antique glass sourced from England and Europe, leaded with traditional lead came in a variety of sizes to be determined at time of fabrication, soldered with 40/60 blowpipe solder, and cemented with traditional leaded light cement. All images, symbols and surface details are to be hand painted onto the glass using traditional pigment and silver stain kiln fired. The windows are to be glazed into the stonework with lime mortar to match colour of surrounding masonry. The existing wrought iron ferramenta bars are to be carefully removed and replaced with new non-ferrous bronze bars of similar cross section to originals.

Derek Hunt FMGP ACR