Art carnage at the Abbey!
One of the most acclaimed artists of the twenty and twenty-first century has turned his hand to stained glass window design. The early career John Moores painting prize winner has risen to the height of producing a stained panel design for Britain, if not Europe’s most prestigious Cathedrals: Westminster Abbey. Is this iPad engineered, coloured, lead framed transparency really right for the Nations finest Abbey?
Standing dominantly and not overshadowed by the currently undercover, due to maintenance work, Big Ben, we have Britain’s Westminster Abbey. The ten thousand years plus, a centre of worship, hosts memorials, burial sites and caskets for our Kings and Queens, Hero’s of Warfare, Great Leaders, significant artist, writers and poets, in addition to, and the never to be forgotten, grave of the unknown warrior.
In the long-standing tradition of the Church, they have continued the trend of commissioning contemporary artists and David Hockney had brought the latest of his artistry to stained glass at the Abbey. Hockney is considered one of Britain’s greatest painter, making a valid contribution to the Pop Art movement of the 1960’s he continues to paint across a range of subjects from landscape to portraiture. After a successful solo show at the Royal Academy of Arts earlier in the decade, the exhibition travelled to the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao then to Los Angeles where he has a further two studios. Using the latest iPad technology he designed the window for the Abbey.
The intention of the window is to commemorate the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, our current monarch. The window depicts a rural scene and portrays the affection she feels for the countryside. The window was dedicated by the Dean of Westminster, Dr John Hall earlier in the month.
Is this really great contemporary visual arts or have a number of mistakes been made rendering the outcome a national blunder? Was the correct position for a modern panel to be on the left hand of a set of three, the other two being of traditional design? Would it not have been better to have fitted three new modern windows or for the Hockney piece to be in an isolated location? Did Hockney consider the existing Gothic Architecture in designing the panel? In comparison the stained glass in the RAF Chapel fitted just over seventy years ago to commemorate the Battle of Britain, why did Hockney to look to produce glass work more in keeping with its surroundings? Are the bright primary colours set against contrasting secondary tones, not a little too bright to work with a period piece? If we were to relocate the panel to a twentieth or twenty-first century designed Cathedral, the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool would it be a well-designed window? Is there any consideration given to the lead structure is is it just some kind of organic jellyfish-like form surrounded by randomly positioned pods which bear no relation to the framework of the glass?
To be frank, a Hockney disaster and simply artistic carnage to the finest one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture we pride ourselves in having created.
The solution: remove, exhibit as a design error and commission a new artist to produce a panel which will work with, not against this National Treasure.