Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Glass Rainbow

Today I went on a tour that was a privilege to be part of. It was called "The Glass Rainbow" and there were only seven of us on it, led by 'Blue Badge Guide' Paul Nicolle. It was a coach tour that took us to some of the places on the island where there is stained glass by Henry Thomas Bosdet. It was a day of discovery.
At the time of the Reformation, all the 'Catholic' things out of Jersey churches, like stained glass, statues etc, were discarded in favour of the more Calvinistic Huguenot approach where the whole focus was on the pulpit. But around the 1900s, rectors were beginning to bring back some elements like stained glass into the churches. Henry Thomas Bosdett, born in Jersey, was an artist
who completed many commissions for new stained glass windows.
Before we began our tour, Paul showed us a picture that Bosdett had done that illustrated his talents with life drawing. His great ability to bring life to
the human form in art was to pervade our day.
We first saw an Annunciation at St Helier church where the life almost
jumped out of the figures. The expression on Mary's face expressed her surprise while the angel had the first of many pairs of beautiful wings we were to see that day. There was great tenderness in the figures, something we were to see again.
At the Jersey Museum they had especially got out four large 'cartoons' for the
wedding at Cana, windows we were later to see completed at St Aubin's -on-the-Hill.
My favourite church was probably St Brelade's, where the stone used in the building looked like beach stones. It was very atmospheric. There was a window
there that showed a sower who looked ready to stride strongly forth out of the window. The sense of life reminded me of some of the power in Michelangelo's
sculptures. There was a Crucifixion that gave everyone pause to think quietly and reflectively. There was a Good Shepherd who had gone for the Lost Sheep, one of several on that theme we saw that day.
The people I was with on the tour were all Jersey locals, and they were all incredibly friendly. Paul Nicolle was very knowledgeable and shared his
knowledge with us so well. It was a joy to be part of this group. (Paul leads a tour to dolmens on Tuesday: - if I was still here I would be going!)

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