As you walk up the aisle at the end of a church service on a Sunday morning do you occasionally look up and admire the lovely stained glass windows at the back of the church? They are certainly worth looking at, especially when the sun shines through them. They are the most recent of all the windows in our church and were designed by Lawrence Lee whose crowning glory was the designing of the ten nave windows for the new Coventry Cathedral after the original cathedral had been bombed during the Second World War.
Born in 1909, Lawrence Lee died in 2011, aged 101. He had designed windows for cathedrals all over Britain as well as in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. There are some gems in private homes as well. I read that, “his style developed in the ‘60s to semi-abstracted figures and jewel-like colours” and that style is certainly evident in these windows which became part of our Scots Church building in 1962. In rich jewel colours they depict Nature, the Glorified Christ and Man.
As one of the three creators of the Coventry Cathedral windows, Lee's participation in the production of those 70 foot high windows established his reputation and also a greater acceptance of the more modern and abstract style which he developed during the 1960s. (We are aware of that change in style in our Scots Church windows.) He had discovered a new freedom of expression and a highly individual sense of composition and colour. The Coventry windows, when finished, had to be stored for two years until the Cathedral was rebuilt and consecrated in 1962. The success of those windows also led to more commissions in other countries, including Australia. Our windows must have been one of those commissions.
Lawrence Lee employed and mentored many assistants over the years and was generous in passing on his knowledge and wisdom. He wrote several books and he encouraged women into the profession. His assistant's initials were often included in his windows, something not usually done by other designers.
It was said that “he never sought to shock, always paying homage to the architecture, but he believed that the experience of looking at a window was to conduct the energy of light as a shock to the retina.”
I think that we are fortunate indeed to have a Lawrence Lee window adding to the worshipful beauty of Scots Church.
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