A Glass Commission for Discover Greenwich
By Glass Artist Delia Scales
Delia Scales of Apollo Stained Glass based at Cockpit Arts in Deptford was commissioned by Discover Greenwich to create four stained glass pieces depicting the Thames barrier, Tower Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and the Millennium Bridge. We asked her about her experiences of delivering a commission:
Q: Please tell us about your practice
Apollo Stained Glass is a small company that designs, makes and installs stained glass. About 80% of the work I do gets fitted into peoples homes; their front doors, fanlights, side panels and windows throughout the house.
For many people their home represents the largest expenditure that they are ever likely to make and because of this people understandably tend to be cautious and fairly conservative about what goes into their front doors! The work for Discover Greenwich was a really special commission for me which I partly owe to a couple of my braver customers who opted for designs that grew out of their passion for London architecture and decided they were going to ‘just go for it’!
A commission for a stained glass version of Canary Wharf tube station across a whole doorset was spotted by another customer who then commissioned the Thames Barrier across four internal study doors. These panels opened my eyes to a real love of industrial art; the dramatic skylines, silhouetted shapes, the feeling of wheels in motion!
Q: How did your commission come about?
At our summer Open Studios I displayed work based on paintings of my father’s Thames scenes (pictured). As an ex-docker his work documents a lifetime of dramatic industrial change along the Thames shore. I got chatting to a visitor who was very keen on the history of the area and I showed her my other completed industry based work.
The visitor turned out to be Karine Lepeuple, Commercial & Visitor Services Director of Discover Greenwich (Old Royal Naval College) and she mentioned that she had an idea for a local designer-maker showcase that featured work relating to Greenwich. Later on we discussed a few different ideas and it was felt that a smaller version of the Thames Barrier panels would fit well into the exhibition. Her enthusiasm and support was really contagious and I ended up, with the help of a colleague, producing an additional 3 scenes; Millennium Bridge and Tate Modern, Waterloo Bridge and St Paul’s, Tower Bridge and City Hall (pictured below).
Q: What were the challenges?
The Thames Barrier panel was backlit and one of the challenges for me was to design for a light box. In my ordinary work I treat glass as a very fluid medium; it changes as day turns to night and again in all different weathers. There are so many different textures of glass that catch the light and sparkle at different times of the day in different ways and I use these effects to highlight features in a design and create textural patterns. Designing for a lightbox is very different. You have a flat bright opaque piece of backlit Perspex and stained glass appears very static. A way round this was to use lots of streaky glass, semi opaques and glass with bubbles and flecks also worked well.
Q: Has this project lead to anything else?
In conjunction with the display panels I also made and supplied a range of panels for the Discover Greenwich Shop. I don’t think that I will ever become a millionaire this way but it’s certainly very exciting to see your work for sale in the historic window of a World Heritage Site! Even though the exhibition has just ended the four scenic panels are still for sale.
Q: What did you gain from the experience?
The overall experience was very worthwhile; it led to my first venture into shop work; a talk to teenagers on stained glass as part of the Discover Greenwich education programme; I learnt to work with a new display material and am thinking about a new line of products connected to this.
The Discover Greenwich team were so enthusiastic, hardworking and supportive it really fires you up and makes you want to go the extra mile so although you need to factor in the extra time for more decorative work alongside your regular paying jobs it is an experience I would wholeheartedly recommend.
You can also see Delia’s work at our next Open Studios.
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Tags: commisioning, makers