Glass “Bridge of Courageous Hearts”



Designer of the world’s longest glass bridge, Israeli architect, Haim  Dotan, named his remarkable feat of engineered glass and steel – the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China – the Bridge of Courageous Hearts.   It is not hard to see why!


Figure 1: A bird’s eye view of the Bridge of Courageous Hearts, Zhangjiajie national Forest Park, Hunan Province, China

At first glance it appears to be a fairly standard suspension bridge, although it is almost 300 metres above the canyon and 430 metres long.  It is only when you realise that the entire floor is made from sheets of glass that it becomes something way out of the ordinary.   it is worth looking at this short video on The Guardian website.

It was designed to carry 800 people at any one time and 8000 per day, but huge numbers of visitors – reportedly  closer to 80,000 per day – have closed the bridge only 13 days after its  opening on 20 August 2016.

It seems that China has a passion for such terrifying glass-bottomed staircases.  Elsewhere in the same Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is the Coiling Dragon skywalk.  It  overlooks Tongtian Avenue, a road that snakes up the mountain through 99 hairpin bends.


Figure 2: Yuntai Mountain skywalk in Henan province, China.


Figure 3: Popular Yuntai Mountain skywalk in Henan province, China.  Photograph: China Photo Press

The Yuntai Mountain Geological Park skyway is 1000 metres high and snakes around the face of the mountain, but in September 2015 when a visitor dropped a stainless steel cup a panel of glass broke (like a windscreen) with a loud bang  that sent people running.  As the walkway has several layers of 2.7 cm thick glass, no-one was in any danger and everyone was evacuated without incident, but the popular attraction was immediately closed for repairs.

For those who love adventure at great heights and gut-churning thrills without the real dangers that come with abseiling or mountain-climbing, this could be the best use of glass on the the planet.   Just not for this scaredy-cat.



Klaus Zimmer at Parramatta Cathedral


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Parramatta St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral west window Klaus Zimmer

In March 2012, on the good advice of Sydney glass artist, Jeff Hamilton, I took the opportunity to visit St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral at Parramatta  to see the last significant commission of Klaus Zimmer (1928-2007) – a superb example of contemporary architectural glass.

Parramatta St Patricks Catholic Cathedral (3)

When fire destroyed a large portion of St. Patrick’s in 1996, the community of Parramatta vowed to rebuild.  Romaldo Giurgola (1920-2016), best known in Australia for MGT Architects new Parliament House in Canberra, designed a light, ethereal sandstone building that has the atmosphere and ambience required of a spiritual centre for the twenty-first century.[1]  He incorporated the remnants of the old building, a Gothic Revival shell, as a re-ordered Chapel that leads one into the nave of the new Cathedral.  The completed building was dedicated on 29 November 2003.

Romaldo Giurgola and Klaus Zimmer had collaborated previously when Zimmer produced windows for the stairwell and private dining room at Parliament House in 1986.  The same energy and rapport is evident in the seventy-eight windows that Zimmer designed for the new Cathedral.  Each design is an individual work of art, but also clearly part of a carefully orchestrated suite that has a strong dynamic presence totally in harmony with the surrounding architecture.  These are not traditional ‘stained glass’ windows as lead has not been used and, as a result, the abstract shapes and patterns appear to float in the window openings, reflecting the lightness of the building itself.

Not in good health, Zimmer, who had previously undertaken much of his work independently or with a small team, worked in partnership with Derix Glasstudio, Taunusstein, Germany to produce his magnum opus.[2]  The last window to seen as one leaves by the old ‘west’ door, is the Eternity Window, a joyous finale to the completed cycle.

Parramatta St Patricks Catholic Cathedral (5) cropped

If you live in Sydney, or have an opportunity to visit, it is well worth the ferry ride to Parramatta to see a contemporary religious building that responds to the needs of those who worship there now and future generations will appreciate its glory well into the future.

Parramatta St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral west window Klaus Zimmer

[1] The firm GMB Architects evolved from the former MGT Architects. See

[2] See

See also, Romaldo Giurgola, Luminous Simplicity: the architecture and art of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, Macmillan Art Publishing, South Yarra, 2006.

The English designer who almost set up a studio in Sydney


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by Karla Whitmore

Alexander Gascoyne ran an ‘Ecclesiastical artist’s business’ established by his father George Frederick in Nottingham, England. Born in 1877 he became well known as a designer of stained glass and has numerous windows in English churches.  He was a member of the British Society of Master Glass Painters and exhibited at the Royal Academy.

Gascoyne Catholic Press advert 1925

Figure 1: Advertisement placed in Catholic Press, 30 July 1925, p. 32. Later the same year, the advertisement offered personal appointments with Gascoyne.

In 1925, Gascoyne visited Australia, the visit being announced by advertisements in the press two months before his arrival. The advertisement was placed by James Moroney, a New Zealand-born Sydney based designer of art nouveau leadlight windows. The Caroline Simpson Library at Sydney Living Museums has a number of his designs.  Gascoyne designed both ecclesiastical and art nouveau windows and examples can be seen online.1

A few years after federation imported stained glass windows for churches and public buildings were to be free of duty as works of art whereas glass, such as from Belgium, was subject to duty. After hearing from the industry and debating the subject the government in 1908 imposed a tariff of 20% on imported stained glass. According to a report on the glass industry in Britain at this time English stained glass was facing price competition from Europe and America in exporting to overseas clients. These conditions provided an opportunity as Gascoyne reportedly planned on setting up a studio in Sydney, probably bringing out skilled craftsmen and employing local assistants.2   He was reported as having visited Sydney in 1926, the year before his early death.  It is interesting to think of the ecclesiastical and elegant art nouveau windows that would have been created had been able to set up a studio in Sydney.


Randwick Our Lady of Sacred Heart Gascoyne Hardman KW

Figure 2: Alexander Gascoyne (designer)/ John Hardman & Company, Birmingham (maker), Scenes from the Life of the Blessed Virgin, 1925-28, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Catholic Church, Randwick, NSW.  Photograph: Karla Whitmore

One of his designs can be seen in a church at Randwick where James Moroney’s studio was located.  Gascoyne reportedly designed the altar window while in Sydney and Moroney probably installed it. The 5-light east window is based on Gascoyne’s design and made by the Birmingham based studio with an international clientele, John Hardman & Co.3  The window cost over £2000. In an unusual commissioning process Gascoyne’s design was bought and made by Hardman for less than the price quoted by Gascoyne.  John T. Hardman who ran the firm at the time was a friend of Gascoyne.

The window has a trefoil cusped central light, four cusped lights and sextfoil and quatrefoil tracery. Our Lady holds the infant Jesus in the central light with saints and angels arranged in a semi-circle around her in the adjacent lights and biblical scenes including the Nativity and Crucifixion. Other figures are in horizontal bands beneath architectural canopies in Gothic Revival style. The window is notable for its rich colouring of ultramarine, scarlet and gold. The Catholic Press at the time enthusiastically described the window as ‘a credit to the British glassmakers of to-day, and compares favourably with the ancient art of colouring’4. The richly detailed appearance accords with the original design intent which was for the window to be instructional as well as beautiful.

Randwick Our Lady of Sacred Heart detail Hardman KW

Figure 3: Alexander Gascoyne (designer)/ John Hardman & Company, Birmingham (maker), detail from Scenes from the Life of the Blessed Virgin, 1925-28, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Catholic Church, Randwick, NSW.  Photograph: Karla Whitmore

1 A Gascoyne art nouveau design is on .

2 ‘Stained Glass Production in Australia’, The Argus (Melbourne), 4 September 1925, p. 16.

3 ‘Glassmakers’Art, Fine Work by British Firm’, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 June 1928, p. 7.

4 ‘Magnificent Stained Glass Window’, Catholic Press, 21 June 1928, p. 27.

Remembering Fromelles



Precisely one hundred years ago – 19 and 20 July 1916 – the Australian Imperial Force was thrown into its first major battle in France; it has become known at the Battle of Fromelles.

After the evacuation of Australians from Gallipoli, the troops returned to Egypt where a number of battalions were divided up to form the nucleus of a 5th Division of the Australian Army, augmented with newly arrived reinforcements.  Proceeding to France from March to June 1916, Australian units disembarked at Marseilles then wound their way north by troop train and route march to a ‘nursery’ sector in northern France.  Here the old-stagers and new men were in training to fight a different war from the static trench stalemate that had been the experience of Gallipoli veterans.

But the so-called ‘quiet’ sector did not remain that way for long and the Australian 5th Division (who had only disembarked in June) and 61st British Division were ordered to attack the strong German position known as the Sugarloaf salient, with the intention of diverting German troops away from the Somme offensive further to the south.  But any hope of surprise was soon lost as the attack followed a (largely ineffective) seven-hour bombardment of German trenches that merely served to alert the enemy to what might be coming and gave time for counter measures to be put in place.

It was a disaster for the Allies. The British and Australian troops attacked at 6 pm on 19 July.  Fierce fighting resulted in some small territorial gains but these were swiftly reversed by heavy German machine gun fire and a lack of allied flanking support.  By 8 am on 20 July the battle was over.  Australian casualties (killed and wounded) numbered a staggering 5533, while the British recorded 1547.

Geoffrey Gordon McCrae

Figure 1: William Wheildon/George Dancey/Brooks, Robinson & Co., St. George, south nave, Christ Church Anglican, Hawthorn (Vic.) Photographer: Ray Brown

One among the many killed in action was 26-year-old Major Geoffrey Gordon McCrae of 60 Battalion.[1]  McCrae was popular, intelligent and considered one of the promising young military leaders by his Brigadier, Pompey Elliott, who had known him since 1911 when they had both served in the militia.[2]

McCrae was born on 1 January 1890, son of George Gordon and Augusta Helen (Gussie) McCrae, of “Anchorsfield” Calvin Street, Hawthorn, a suburb of Melbourne.  After Britain announced it was at war, McCrae enlisted on 14 August 1914, leaving the architectural firm, Klingerer and Alsop where he was articled.  His military experience was relatively extensive as he had been part of the reserve forces since September 1909 and by 1914 he was a Captain in 58 Infantry Battalion.

On enlistment his skills were immediately noted and only days later he was appointed Captain in 7 Battalion; the following year he was promoted to Major and the battalion’s second-in-command.  He was wounded in action on the Gallipoli Peninsula, which caused his evacuation to Lemnos, before returning in June only to be slightly wounded again in mid-July.  This time he was evacuated to Alexandria, suffering from shell shock.  Once again he re-joined his battalion on Gallipoli and assumed second-in-command on 30 August 1915.

Posted to 60 Battalion after hospitalisation with enteric fever, he proceeded to France on 29 June 1916 and was commanding the battalion when he was killed in action.  The following day, the Rev. F.P. Williams officiated at his burial in Rue du Bois Military Cemetery, 4 1/2 miles south west of Armentieres.   Many months later his parents received word that Geoffrey Gordon McCrae was mentioned in the despatch of General Sir Douglas Haig for distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty on more than one occasion.

Generations of the McCrae family worshipped at Anglican Christ Church in Hawthorn , where memorial services were held on 6 August 1916 for Geoffrey McCrae and two other local men: notices of all deaths were received in the same week.   The vicar, the Reverend H. Taylor described them as ‘martyrs for the cause in which they fought – that of freedom, right, and duty, and worthy followers of England’s greatest heroes now at rest with God.’[3]   Major Geoffrey McCrae, Captain Edward Mair and Capt. Harry Ground were friends; all died at Fromelles in July 1916.[4]

In the following months McCrae’s inconsolable father commissioned a memorial window as a tribute to his son from the Melbourne firm, Brooks, Robinson & Co.  He selected St. George, patron saint of England, as its subject in the belief that this exemplar of chivalry and courage would appropriately represent his beloved youngest son, adding a crest at the base with the McCrae motto ‘Fortitudine’ (‘With Fortitude’).[5]  The window was unveiled by family friend Brigadier-General Burston after evensong on Lady Day, 25 March 1917.[6

Geoffrey Gordon McCrae

This is just one story of many that might be told of the men who died in that wasteful and little-known battle.  It is only in recent years that ‘Fromelles’ has become known at all, let alone synonymous with one of the worst days for Australian casualties.  In some cases, nearby towns were said to be the place of death.  When the Archbishop of Melbourne unveiled the memorial tablet beneath the McCrae window in December 1917, Armentieres was regarded as the place Geoffrey McCrae lost his life.[7]

At the Australian memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, (the site of a different battle that ended in victory) names of 11 000 men lost with no known grave are listed on the huge expanse of wall at either side of the towering centrepiece.  Above them, at the top of the wall, the names of the battles in which they fought are all carved in stone – all bar one – the Battle of Fromelles.[8]



[1] 60 Battalion casualties numbered 757 – effectively incapacitating the whole battalion which did not reach effective strength again until the following year.

[2] For Geoffrey McCrae’s family life and military career see Ross McMullin, Farewell, dear people: biographies of Australia’s lost generation, Scribe Publications Pty. Ltd., Melbourne, 2012.

[3] Church of England Messenger, 11 August 1916, p. 371.

[4] Edward Mair, 58 Battalion, was 36 years old, married to Susan and with two young sons.  He was killed in action only days before the Fromelles battle; Harry Ground, single, aged 30, was wounded on 19 July and died three days later.

[5] The crest does not conform to the McCrae family (a hand in sword or an oak tree).  It may derive from Geoffrey’s mother’s family Brown, of which one branch has a rampart lion as part of its crest.

[6] Church of England Messenger, 6 April 1917, p. 184.

[7] Church of England Messenger, 28 December 1917, p. 682.

[8] I am indebted to John Arnold for bringing this to my attention.

Shakespeare in Stained Glass


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by Beverley Sherry

Shakespeare (1564-1616) has been much in the news this year, the four hundredth anniversary of his death. Anniversaries of his birth, however, are more cause for celebration. In Australia, the three hundredth anniversary of his birth in 1864 was such an occasion, and it was a time when local stained glass firms were beginning to be established, designing glass not only for churches but also for public buildings and houses.[1]

Shakespeare in public and institutional buildings

In 1862, looking forward to the tercentenary of Shakespeare’s birth in 1864, Australia’s earliest stained glass firm, Ferguson & Urie of Melbourne, designed a unique Shakespeare window, a full-length portrait showing Shakespeare with pen in hand and holding a page inscribed “All the World’s a Stage” (from Jacques’ speech on “The Seven Ages of Man” from As You Like It).

1 Shakespeare. Photo Geoffrey Wallace

Figure 1 Shakespeare, State Library of Victoria, originally in Apollo Music Hall, Melbourne. By Ferguson & Urie, 1862. Photo: Geoffrey Wallace

Appropriately, the window was commissioned by the theatrical entrepreneur George Coppin (1819-1906) and installed in the Apollo Music Hall of his newly built Haymarket Theatre in Bourke Street, Melbourne. Shakespeare dominated the centre light, more than three metres high, and was flanked by side lights portraying Hamlet, Falstaff, Lady Macbeth, and Beatrice. Ferguson & Urie took the figure of Shakespeare from a marble sculpture made by the French artist Louis-François Roubiliac in 1758. The sculpture had been commissioned by the great Shakespearean actor David Garrick (1717-1779) and installed in his Palladian “Temple to Shakespeare” near his villa on the Thames at Hampton.[2]

2 Shakespeare at the British Library

Figure 2  Shakespeare, British Library, originally in Garrick’s “Temple to Shakespeare” on the Thames at Hampton. By Louis-François Roubiliac, 1758.  Photo: Jennifer Howes

The stance of Shakespeare and even the details of buttons left undone have been copied by Ferguson & Urie from Roubiliac’s sculpture, but the page with “All the World’s a Stage” has been added. Most striking, though, is the radical difference in medium: Roubiliac’s cool marble, right for Garrick’s Palladian temple, is in stark contrast to the hectic colours of Ferguson & Urie’s stained glass version. Their Shakespeare is showy, flamboyant, and just right for a theatrical setting.

The window remained in the Apollo Music Hall until about 1870, when it was removed to Coppin’s residences and suffered varying fortunes during which the side lights were lost. Miss Lucy Coppin at least had the foresight to bequeath the Shakespeare portrait to the State Library of Victoria. In 2005 it was restored by Geoffrey Wallace and installed at the top of the La Trobe Reading Room.[3]

A few years before the Shakespeare of Coppin’s theatre, another portrait of Shakespeare had appeared in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney as part of the grand program of windows designed by Clayton & Bell of London and installed in 1859.

3 Shakespeare Great Hall University of Sydney. Clayton & Bell, 1857. Photo Jasmine Allen

Figure 3 Shakespeare, flanked by other dramatists Beaumont & Fletcher and Ford & Massinger, Great Hall University of Sydney. By Clayton & Bell, 1859. Photo: Jasmine Allen

In all kinds of educational buildings – universities, schools, libraries – Shakespeare was a favourite.  In 1880 Ferguson & Urie portrayed Shakespeare again in the large window they designed for the Great Hall of the Brisbane Grammar School. The twentieth century saw the State Library of New South Wales recognising Shakespeare through the Shakespeare Place sculptural group (1926) and the Shakespeare windows (c.1940) in the Shakespeare Room. This is a small gem of a room that houses the Tercentenary Shakespeare Library and is replete with linen-fold panelling and an elaborate Tudor ceiling.  Directly in view as one enters the room are the stained glass windows designed by the Sydney artist Arthur Benfield (1912-1988) portraying “The Seven Ages of Man”.

4 Shakespeare windows State Library of NSW. Infant; School Boy. Photo Douglass Baglin.

Figure 4  The Infant and the Schoolboy from Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man. Shakespeare Room, State Library of NSW. By Arthur Benfield, c.1940. Photo: Douglass Baglin

5 The Soldier, Shakespeare Room State Library of NSW. Photo Douglass Baglin

Figure 5  The Soldier from Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man. Shakespeare Room, State Library of NSW. By Arthur Benfield, c.1940. Photo: Douglass Baglin

Shakespeare in residential buildings

When we turn to residential buildings, various themes from the arts were lavishly depicted in stained glass in the nineteenth and early twentieth century as a way of expressing social and cultural values and aspirations, and the Bard of Avon was a favourite.

The most impressive example was surely at Norwood (1891), a mansion built in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton for the Jewish financier Mark Moss, one of the wealthiest of Melbourne’s merchant princes of the nineteenth-century boom years. It was a massive seven-light window designed by the Melbourne artist William Montgomery (1850-1927) and placed in the baronial entrance hall of Norwood.  Intended to pull up the visitor in his tracks, it was composed of 35 panels, portraying characters from Shakespeare, a view of Stratford-upon-Avon, a portrait of Shakespeare, and seven figures  representing Jacques’ ‘Seven Ages of Man’.  The artist Montgomery was an enthusiastic advocate and spokesman for the use of stained glass in residences and his Shakespeare window at Norwood must have been, in terms of magnitude at least, his pièce de résistance. Lamentably, Norwood was demolished in the 1950s and the windows lost and or dispersed, but Roland Johnson, who lived in the house, has written a history on Norwood that leaves us in no doubt as to the effect of the stained glass.  He writes “These windows dominate the hall: in fact they dominate the house itself, almost as if the house was built around them’, and he remembers best of all ‘Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” stretching across the seven columns of windows, in the middle row’.[4]

6 Shakespeare window Norwood. Brighton Vic. 1891-1

Figure 6 Norwood interior with the Shakespeare window by William Montgomery, 1891. Reproduced from Roland Johnson, Norwood, p. 3

Norwood was lost, but fortunately Shakespearean figures designed by Montgomery survive around the front door of Cullymont (c.1890) in the Melbourne suburb of Canterbury, and stunning Shakespeare windows, attributed to Montgomery, grace the entrance of Cumbooquepa, now Somerville House School in Brisbane. Cumbooquepa was built as a residence in 1889 for William Stephens, son of Thomas Blacket Stephens, an early pioneer of Brisbane, and the entrance was designed to impress. The foyer is paved in black and white marble, and set in four alcoves around the foyer are windows portraying full-length figures of Shakespearean heroines – Rosalind, Beatrice, Viola, and Portia – with their names and appropriate quotations beneath each figure together with Thomas Blacket Stephens’ monogram TBS.

7 Cumbooquepa Brisbane. Viola. Photo Douglass Baglin-1

Figure 7 Viola, Cumbooquepa, now Somerville House School, Brisbane. Attributed to William Montgomery, c.1890. Photo: Douglass Baglin

In residences, the mere presence of Shakespeare was fashionable, socially impressive, and evocative of old England and the romantic past, themes beloved of William Montgomery. The Queenslander was even running a column in the 1890s entitled “In Shakespeare’s Day”. Shakespearean themes were depicted not only in stained glass but on tiles around fireplaces and on ceilings. The Sydney firm of Lyon, Cottier & Co. had a standard portrait of Shakespeare which they executed in stained glass for St Andrew’s College, University of Sydney in 1876 and for the library of Booloominbah (1888) in Armidale (NSW), and also as part of a painted ceiling in the library of Glenleigh (c.1882) on the Nepean River (NSW).[5]

8 Shakespeare 1 St Andrew's

Figure 8 Shakespeare, St Andrew’s College, University of Sydney. By Lyon, Cottier & Co., 1876. Photo: Douglass Baglin

9 Shakespeare, Glenleigh, Nepean River. Lyon & Cottier, 1880s.

Figure 9 Shakespeare, Glenleigh, Regentville (NSW). By Lyon, Cottier & Co., c.1882. Photo: Beverley Sherry

Shakespeare has been celebrated throughout the world in stained glass and notable examples are in Harvard’s Memorial Hall; the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC (the Seven Ages of Man); the King Edward VI Grammar School at Chelmsford, Essex; the Carnegie Centre in Vancouver; Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon (the Seven Ages of Man); and Southwark Cathedral (21 Shakespearean characters plus the Seven Ages of Man).

 10 Shakespeare window Carnegie Centre Vancouver. N.T.Lyon, Toronto, 1905. Photo by Dan Feeney

Figure 10 Milton, Shakespeare, Spenser: central panels of staircase window Carnegie Centre, Vancouver. By Nathaniel Lyon, 1905. Photo: Dan Feeney


[1] See Beverley Sherry, Australia’s Historic Stained Glass (Sydney: Murray Child, 1991).

[2] In 1779 Garrick bequeathed the sculpture to the British Museum, and it now stands in the Main Hall of the British Library, St Pancras, London. His Temple to Shakespeare has recently been restored and a replica of the sculpture installed. See “Garrick’s Villa and Temple to Shakespeare”, Richmond Libraries Local Studies Collection: and Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare Newsletter Issue 1 (Spring 2008):

[3] Mimi Colligan, “’That Window has a History’: the Shakespeare Window at the State Library”, La Trobe Journal 78 (Spring 2006): 94+ and Geoffrey Wallace, “Conservation of the Shakespeare Window,” La Trobe Journal 78 (Spring 2006): 104+.  See also Ray Brown’s valuable research on the window:

[4] Roland Johnson, Norwood: It changed the face of Melbourne (Portarlington [Vic]: The Publishing Company, 2013). See also Bronwyn Hughes’s PhD thesis, “Designing Stained Glass for Australia 1887-1927: The Art and Professional Life of William Montgomery” (PhD thesis, University of Melbourne, 2007), see volume I, pp. 158-59 on the Shakespeare window and the ball room windows at Norwood.

[5] For stained glass expressing family, social, and cultural values, see Sherry, Australia’s Historic Stained Glass Chapter 3 (“Houses”) and Chapter 4 (“Public Buildings”). Since the publication of my book, I have discovered many more examples, including the work of Lyon & Cottier at Glenleigh. See also my essay “Stained Glass” (2011) in the online Dictionary of Sydney:

The assistance of Ray Brown     Patrick Burns, Founding Director and Chief Photographer, Institute for Stained Glass in Canada and Roland Johnson, one of the last family to reside at Norwood is gratefully acknowledged.


Dr Beverley Sherry is a Contributor to the Glaas in Research site and a valued member of the Glaas Advisory Group.  Her career includes appointments at the University of Queensland, where she was a Senior Lecturer in English, the Australian National University, and the University of Sydney, where she is now an Honorary Associate.  Her main field is English literature, particularly the works of John Milton, and she is an internationally recognized Milton scholar.  However, her work has always been cross-disciplinary, especially in literature and the visual arts, and she considers her book Australia’s Historic Stained Glass (1991) her most pioneering work. It documents stained glass in churches, houses, and public buildings, drawing examples from every state and both rural and urban areas. The book has never been superseded and is now recognised as the authoritative work on the subject.


Harry Clarke’s War


IMG_0224Last year I received this tiny brooch (measuring approximately 2 x 1 cm), a gift from someone who knew how much I would treasure it, as it has all the hallmarks of the Harry Clarke Studios, Dublin. On close inspection one can see the image of a soldier, set in a purple/pink radiance, with circular crests at the base.

The brooch image is only a part of a much larger window, the Kevin Barry memorial Window, relocated at University College, Dublin (UCD), Belfield campus in 2011 from its original site at Earlsfort Terrace.  See the full window at

The window commemorates the life of Kevin Gerard Barry (1902-1920), a first-year medical student at UCD in 1919 and a member of the Irish Volunteers (IRA) since the age of 15.  Barry was arrested for his role in the ambush of a British Army vehicle during which three soldiers were shot, one fatally; the other two died of wounds later.  Barry was charged with murder, refusing to name the other men of his ambush party, and was executed by hanging in 1920; he was 18 years old.  This hanging, the first since those following the 1916 Easter Uprising, heralded an escalation of the War of Independence .

Richard King for the Harry Clarke Studios (Clarke himself died in Switzerland in 1931) designed the window.  Although mooted in the 1920s it was finally unveiled in 1934 by Eamonn de Valera, President of Ireland, a leader in the 1916 Easter Uprising and President of Sinn Fein 1917 to 1926.

The tiny ‘Barry brooches’ are presented as gifts by the Schools of Health Sciences on UCD Belfield campus, a potent reminder of their famous former student.

Harry Clarkes War coverFor Ireland, the First World War and Irish Uprising of 1916 are inextricably linked, although it is unlikely Kevin Barry will be mentioned in Marguerite Helmers,  Harry Clarke’s War: Illustrations for Ireland’s Memorial Records, 1914-1918, Irish Academic Ress Ltd., Kildare, 2015.

Ireland’s Memorial Records 1914-1918 lists the names of 49,435 enlisted men who were killed in the First World War.  The original edition, commissioned in 1919 was ‘notable for stunning and elaborate page decorations’, the work of Harry Clarke.  We certainly don’t think of Clarke as a ‘war artist’ at all, but Marguerite Helmer has produced a book ‘with Harry Clarke’s illustrations taking center stage in the story’ allowing an evaluation of ‘how art and commemoration can come together in a powerful visual creation’.

The same can be said for the Kevin Barry Memorial window at University College Dublin.

With thanks to Susan Kellett, PhD candidate, University of Queensland.

The Irish Rising: ‘A terrible beauty is born’ is a free exhibition at The State Library of Victoria 17 March 2016-31 July 2016.

Harry Clarke’s War is available from on-line book sources.




An Anzac Tribute



Fitzroy Gidley King Kemp windows (2)Fitzroy Gidley King Kemp windows (5)


Some time ago I was invited to look at a pair of memorial windows dedicated to two brothers who died in the First World War. They are located in a private home in Melbourne although they were probably installed originally in a church.  The current custodian, an artist and collector, has no knowledge of their past history.

The images are details of the full windows.

Although the designer/maker, and the windows’ journey to its present location remain mysteries, quite a lot can be gleaned from the subjects and inscriptions.

The subjects are St. Mary and St. John, which may hold the clue to the original setting. Most commonly these two saints are depicted on either side of the image of the crucified Christ.  This suggests that the two windows may originally have been the flanking lights for a central Crucifixion light.  In the present setting the two figures face each other, but they are looking up, indicating that the central light was likely to have been taller.

The inscriptions read:
‘Erected by his sister to the Honour and Glory of God and in loving memory of Wilfrid Foxton King-Kemp killed in battle in France, May 29th 1917’ and the other ‘… and in loving memory of Philip Sydney King-Kemp killed in battle in France Oct 19th 1917’.

Fitzroy Gidley King Kemp windows (4)Fitzroy Gidley King Kemp windows (3)Gunner Wilfred Foxton King-Kemp was a 27 year-old solicitor when he enlisted in 1916, aged 27. By May 1916 he was en route for England with 10th Australian Field Artillery Brigade, disembarking at Plymouth two months later. He transferred to the 23rd F.A.B. and proceeded to France in December 1916. His unit was in Belgium when Wilfrid received multiple gun shot wounds to his legs and arms on 10 April 1917. He was evacuated to hospital in Rouen, where he died on 29 May. He was buried at St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.  Added to his family’s distress was information that he was ‘improving’ one day, only to be visited the following day by the local clergyman with the news that he had died.

His brother, Driver Philip Gidley King-Kemp also died of wounds only months later. He was a 25 year-old insurance inspector, married to Gertrude Laura, when he enlisted on 10 May 1915. In Egypt by early 1916, he embarked for France, landing at Marseilles on 28 March 1916. He served in several units, and was wounded and gassed in France and Belgium. Serving with the 101st Howitzer Battery, he died from a severe gassing on 18 October 1917. He was buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Flanders.

Research, mainly through the wonderful resource of the NLA’s Trove digitised newspapers, shows that there were two other brothers, Warrant Officer G. King-Kemp M.M. and Mr. R.C. King-Kemp of Coraki, a solicitor in 1918, as was their father. There were also five daughters, one of whom donated the windows, but which one is not clear.

Their parents were Richard Edgar Kemp (1849-1927) and Lily Honora, daughter of Archdeacon King, a grandson of the Governor of New South Wales, Philip Gidley King. Richard and Honora were married on 20 May 1877, in St. Luke’s Liverpool, with the bride’s father officiating along with the Headmaster of King’s School, the Rev. G.F. Macarthur.

In 1928, Hilda Sophia King Kemp, youngest of the daughters, was reported to have died on 22 May at 10 Torrington Road, Strathfield. Maybe she was the donor of the windows; research has not yet traced the other sisters. Hilda’s parents pre-deceased her, father Richard in 1927. He was interred at St. Thomas’ Anglican Cemetery, Enfield by the incumbent of St. Paul’s Burwood, assisted by Richard’s brother-in-law, the Rev. C.J. King of Camden. The family’s last home was ‘Gascoigne’, Gordon Street, Burwood.

While it has been possible to trace a part of the civilian and service lives of these two men and their family, the story of the window remains elusive.

The litany of family names and places may give some clue as to where the windows might have been previously located. This Anglican (Church of England) family was very well connected – members of the law fraternity and the clergy pepper family marriages and family names include Macarthur, Macarthur Onslow, Pring, Mullens and Elder as well as Foxton and Gidley King. As successive generations of the family spread throughout country New South Wales and to other eastern States, it is possible that the windows were installed in an Anglican church outside Sydney, but areas around Burwood, Strathfield, Enfield appear to be the most likely sites.

Despite the name of designer/maker remaining unknown, it is likely that the windows were made in the Sydney area. The style has many attributes of F. J. Tarrant & Co., a firm that operated before the First World War until 1946, building windows to designs of freelance artists.

Please add your thoughts, comments and suggestions.  One day it may be possible to tell the whole story of these commemorative windows of the First World War.

Fitzroy Gidley King Kemp windows (1)

Tony Robinson’s Time Walks


I am not sure that it is part of tonight’s program (ABC 8.00pm Friday 15 April) but the promo has been showing Sir Tony in front of a magnificent stained glass window. Melburnians may recognise the window as the one installed on the stair landing at Medley Hall, Carlton. The grand Italianate mansion (no expense spared!) was formerly called Benvenuta… and there is plenty more to tell.

I won’t spoil the story by telling why Tony is pointing and waving his arms about. The program shuld be worth watching.

Innovative and Sustainable


The following is part of an article by Lance Turner that was published in ReNew Magazine, Issue 132, July-September 2015, a special issue on building materials. ReNew is published by the Alternative Technology Association.

‘Solar Panels: the new building material?
…The roof is not the only place where BIPV’s [building integrated photovoltaics] are being used: it is also possible to install windows that actually generate electricity. This has the added benefit that the windows reduce the incoming energy and so help keep the building cool. The main disadvantage of a PV window is the higher cost should a breakage occur. They’ll also reduce solar gain in winter, thus reducing warmth collected passively.

…Solaronix ( has commercialised a dye-sensitive solar cell that is available in a range of colours and transparencies and has already been used in at least one large commercial installation, the 33m2 facade at the SwissTech Convention Center in Switzerland.

Onyx Solar ( also has available solar glass panels in four sizes, suitable for windows, skylights, walkways and even as floor tiles. They also do custom sizes for projects where standard sizes won’t do.
With numerous companies working on transparent solar cells, [and I’ve not mentioned them all] it shouldn’t be long before PV windows become a real option, although they may take a little longer to filter through to Australia.’

Now I don’t pretend to understand the technology of building these new panels but I would certainly like to hope that there is scope for introducing decorative designs into them. If you are interested in these emerging new possibilities, have a look at the ReNew article or the SwissTech Convention Center website for more detail and images or

With thanks to Robyn Deed and ReNew Magazine for permission to publish the extract.

Wonderful New Followers and Contributors

Glaas Inc Research is very pleased to welcome a growing number of followers and contributors. We are especially appreciative of the range of interests and expertise represented and look forward to their diverse posts and comments.

One of or Living Treasures in Glass, Cedar Prest writes:
I would like to join and contribute where I can.
I’m looking for a research home for my glass library.
I’m wanting to share my lifelong glass collection with other artists. There’s too much for my lifetime now I’m 76! It’s half price. Select and take away from Maslin Beach SA.

Cedar can be contacted through email: or her website.