Quadrants of Colour: John McLean

By John McLean - 19 October 2017
John Maclean Windows
I took two main factors into account when designing: the masonry of the embrasures and their surroundings, and what to me is the essential aspect of stained glass - colour.

As to the first: I wanted to key into the size of the blocks of stones - that led to the dimensions of my main stained glass pieces. They are the same height as the individual stones forming the apertures and they are roughly the same width. There is no sudden break: the stone and glass are assembled in similar rows.

I subdivided the three-light windows, re-echoing the Trinity to which the Cathedral is dedicated, but also reflecting the strongest element in the medieval design - the slim but emphatic mullions. I have slightly canted my verticals to induce movement, making an easy elision into the stronger rhythms of the tracery.

I feel I had permission for the quadrants of colour tumbling across the design, from the rudimentary cushion capitals of the Norman blind arcading underneath. It is as if I simply cut these capitals in two to arrive at the smallest shapes in my glass. So when you look at the windows you feel an accord between the polychrome quadrants and the Norman work. The curves in my glass also rhyme with the cusps in the 14-century tracery at the tops of the windows.

As to colour: it seems to me the more shading is used in window design the less sheer colour comes across. And surely colour is the most emotive thing about church windows. I have done everything I could to bring this out. 

I have always used the same straightforward elements in my art. There is no hidden message. I would like my work to be enjoyed with the same directness as singing and dancing. 

John McLean's stained glass windows were installed into the north aisle of the Cathedral's Nave in 2014. For further information, read this article

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