public arts

PUBLIC ARTS

NEWNHAM COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE

Newnham College, Cambridge and RH Partnerships

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PUBLIC ART COMMISSION – sandblasting and deep carving – 2005-2007

In November 2005 I was chosen to design the windows for the new Buttery at Newnham College Cambridge. The ten windows were each to be 2.5m high by 2.3m wide in one long row at street level.

The initial design brief was to take inspiration from the iconic Pfeiffer Gates, which were presented to the college in 1894 commemorating Newnham’s first Principle, the resourceful Anne Jemima Clough. The handsome bronze gates standing at the head of Newnham Walk were commissioned from Basil Champneys by Miss Clough’s old students and friends.

The Buttery window design was to be abstract, graphic and bold in nature, and repeated in all the windows. Sandblasting and carving were the preferred techniques to be used.

The curling acanthus leaves and the proud sunflowers, which march up each side of each gate, were my inspiration. The sunflower, my research revealed, was thought a favourite of Miss Clough, and is seen repeatedly in various forms around Newnham College.

The other design element I used pays tribute to the Queen Anne style brickwork in Basil Champneys’ elegant Arts & Crafts Movement architecture at Newnham College.

The flowing scrollwork of the Greek acanthus leaves and borders of sunflower elements of the gates have been abstracted in my design and further extemporised by scale, using a variety of sandblasted textures. The brickwork has been transformed into a delicate pattern of roughly drawn mortar, creating a lace-like delicateness.

The design elements were sandblasted and carved on three sides of two pieces of glass, laminated together, and then formed into double glazed units. By glazing alternate faces of the window, the blasted-brickwork curves create five arches which echo the Pfeiffer archway of the Gates, for long part of the main entrance to the College.

The overlapping, multiple blastings creates magical shadow effects. An element of privacy for those inside is provided by the design, as well as areas from which to peek out – and a completely clear area at the top allows one to view the elements.

This has been a marvellous and hugely satisfying project in which to be involved. Both the Valuable Possessions committee at Newnham College and architects RH Partnership have been supportive and enthusiastic through out. I hope the windows will be enjoyed for many years to come.

Beverly Bryon – Prisms Glass Design

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JERUSALEM SPACE

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Hackney Free and Parochial Church of England School, London. Blessed by the Bishop of London – 17 April, 2007

Transforming an old 12′ x 6′ urinal into a room for quiet contemplation was the dream of Mark Brokenshire, Head of Religious Studies at Hackney Free and Parochial School, who raised the majority of the funds for the artworks himself.

When I was first introduced to the room, the decorating had been completed, and other beautiful artworks and furniture were in place. There was a Tree of Life in carved and stained wood, a painted triptych, and a contemporary wooden ‘alter’, side tables and benches.

The benches had a quote from one of Julian of Norwich’s visions carved into their backs:

“In this vision he showed me a little thing the size of a hazelnut. I wondered how it could last for it was so small. I thought it might suddenly have disappeared.

And the answer in my mind was it lasts and will last for ever because God loves it.”

The three square windows that I was to design, were the only elements of the room that remained utilitarian-looking in truth, somewhat ugly and unsightly.

My initial response was that I felt the existing artworks and furniture needed room to breathe, and certainly not to have additional competition for attention from the windows. The ambiance I wanted to create was to be one of calm fluidity.

Using a selection of beautiful, hand-blown clear glass that plays with the light, and created a ribbon-like movement through the three windows with semi- opaque, smoky glass, guiding the eye towards the Tree of Life.

Finally, I took the quote carved in the benches under the windows as inspiration to add one coloured element: I fused a small oval nugget of golden glass and bonded it onto the surface of one piece of ‘ribbon’. The precious nugget represents the little thing, the hazelnut, and of the golden gift of God’s love.

This was an inspiring commission on which to work, and the Religious Studies Tutor was helpful and appreciative.

Beverly Bryon – Prisms Glass Design

To read a testimonial about this project, please click here.



ROMAN COINS

PUBLIC ART COMMISSION BERKELEY HOMES AND TOWER HAMLETS, LONDON 1999~2001

Sandblasted and deep carving on two sides of 11mm glass, 200 x 900cm – 2001

A new building, Prospect Tower, was to be erected in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. Under the percentage-for-art scheme, the developers, Berkeley Homes, approached me to design a piece of modern art to be installed at ground level, in an external wall.

During my research I discovered that, according to a descriptive manuscript of Londinium (Roman London), Prospect Tower was to be built on the site of a Roman cemetery. Berkeley Homes agreed with my initial proposal that a Roman theme would therefore be most appropriate for the art work.

There are three main elements to the design, the first being the use of Roman coins. The coins link with the City of London of today, being the major financial district that it is, and the fact that the location of the new building is so near to the old Royal Mint site.

Weaving gracefully throughout the panel, and contributing a hint of nature, is the second design element: Selected, stylised, details from the elaborate acanthus scroll which decorates marble panels on the Ara Pacis Augustae, an altar to Peace, envisioned as a Roman goddess, in Rome. In Roman art, the acanthus leaf scroll was used as early as AD 9 and remains popular in decoration today.

The third design element delicately provides an overlay or background, gently pulling the entire design together. For this I used part of an ageing mosaic floor that ties in nicely as an architectural relic. The mosaic motif incorporates a classic pattern of interwoven strands, known as a guilloche , probably the most common of all mosaic designs which can be seen on sites all over the Roman Empire.

All three design elements are circular in nature, which as well as enticing the eye around the panel in a pleasing fashion, also reflects the circular areas of design of Prospect Tower.

By combining both deep and shallow carving, with shading and textural effects on both sides of the 11mm glass, a dramatic effect was achieved with mercurial shadowing and 3D illusion. The art work is lit to dramatic effect and so can be enjoyed by passers-by, night and day.

Beverly Bryon – Prisms Glass Design



MOSCOW COMMISSION: The Spirit of St. Louis

Talks started around the middle of 2010 for ‘The Spirit of St. Louis commission and was finally installed in January 2012.

The client was an American who was living in Moscow. London based interior design company, Wheelerkanik, was working on a corporate apartment for the client, situated in an old Art Deco building.

The 3 windows were to be located in the bathroom/shower room of the apartment, each measuring 1.889m x 1.124m. The design was to have a classic Art Deco feel inspired in part by an old image of a skylight that had previously been in Claridges, London. The client also had an interest in Old Russian Bi-planes which the Interior Designer wished to make a reference to in my design for the windows.

I used a bit of artistic license deciding to link the client’s heritage with the Deco era, and chose to use an image of The Spirit of St. Louis for the planes.

Upon finalizing the design, there was the prolonged process of ordering specialist glass from St. Juste in France for the clouds and Lamberts in Germany. Also a special order was made for Moon Gold, double thickness gold leaf from Italy.

There was a bit of testing and tweaking with various techniques for the planes.
Deep carved sandblasting onto the ‘flashed’ handmade glass.

Finally, work could start on actually ‘making’ the windows,
including using the gold leaf.

Finally finished and safely in Moscow, a great team installed the windows in one day.


The client was delighted.