It is great to be in Conwy with a ladder and tape measure (and Rachel!) this weekend to measure up and make templates for our windows. This is a most amazing project for us, it is an honour to be making work for this fantastic castle and World Heritage Site, and to be making work in response to such a poignant and fierce part of Welsh history. The legacy of the brutal suppression of the Welsh by Edward 1st lives on in the hearts and minds of people today, and when you see the sheer audacity and scale of the castle and town walls which was built by Edward to keep the Welsh out of this part of Wales, you can see why. You can also see how strong the Welsh princes were that Edward had to put such resources into suppressing them.
From the outside the castle is daunting, of course, (that was its intention!), but inside the Royal Chapel is an intimate space. It is the only part of the castle which is currently roofed, and it has the feeling of being a refuge and place of contemplation. The windows face east for worship, so the room gets the morning light.
We have been busy with our research over the past months and now have a wealth of ideas and imagery to work with, our task now is to simplify and edit this information so as to make a series of windows which tell the story of the castle in its many layers and also retain the contemplative atmosphere of the space. We are making a fragment window, using and referencing medieval imagery from stained glass and manuscripts of the period and incorporating them in a contemporary artwork which will enhance the experience of visiting the castle and evoke something of the feel of the place when it was an opulent and colourful place and full of life.
We are not short of inspiration! Today we visited Plas Mawr which was built by Robert Wyn around the 1580’s. The custodian kindly showed us around even though it is closed for the winter and we were amazed by the painted plaster work.
This is such an evocative setting, enough inspiration for a lifetime. That is the challenge of this project, to make a contemporary glass piece which references history using the techniques of the medieval craftsman.