Influences on my work and thoughts on the future of stained glass.
I served an apprenticeship with my father, George Stephen Walsh in studios in Belfast and the United States and attended the School of Art, Belfast. This studio system of learning the techniques has, for the most part, disappeared and young students learn what they can from attending colleges and gleaning information from older artists.The influences on my work of course would be Harry Clarke, but also many artists like the painter George Campbell who also worked in the medium of stained glass. Like Campbell’s, Chagall’s work has been successfully interpreted in stained glass.
In Ireland stained glass is primarily associated with ecclesiastical images. I would like to see teachers encouraging students to experiment in the modern media like hot glass, fused glass, appliqué, etc. There are some very talented young glass artists on stream in Ireland, i.e. Killian Schurmann (hot glass) and Sandra Miley (etched glass) and I hope they will move the medium of glass to new dimensions in the future. Although, as I have previously mentioned, most stained glass is ecclesiastical in form, new buildings (and sometimes poor architectural spaces) can be enhanced by the introduction of a glass wall or piece of work.
Finally, I would say that glass is such an underrated material in our society. Stained glass can transport us back to the Middle Ages. It can give an atmosphere to a space both spiritual and contemplative. As in the words of Abbé Sugar in 1200A.D.:
“To illum men’s minds so that they may travel through light to an apprehension of God’s Light.”