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Piotr Frac’s New Window

January 19, 2020
by the gentle author

Contributing Photographer Sarah Ainslie went along to St John of Jerusalem in Hackney to record stained glass artist Piotr Frac installing his new window in commemoration of parishioner June Pipe who worked for Penguin Books all her life.

Last summer we visited Piotr in his workshop and we are thrilled to see his talent gaining well-deserved recognition through this latest commission that he won as a result of a competition. I took the opportunity to pop over to join Piotr in the crypt of St John on Bethnal Green for a cup of tea early one morning before he started work for the day and hear all about it.

“St John of Jerusalem is a beautiful church near Victoria Park and they contacted me to take part in a competition for designing and making a window. Of course I agreed and luckily I won the competition!

I did not know June but I was given plenty of information about her life, her work and her interests, as well as her involvement with the church. On the basis of this, I created a design. She had a large collection of Penguin Books and she was passionate about fonts and calligraphy, so I tried to capture a sense of this in my window. But I realised that you cannot show all aspects of person’e life in a window, you have to find a way to extract an essence of who they were.

My first sketch was entirely illustrative of June Pipe’s life and the committee at the church really liked it, but I realised that it was too literal and so my design became more abstract. Creating this window was quite a long journey but I am happy with the finished result. The competition took place in 2017 and then my design had to pass several committees. It was complicated because there is not one person who makes the decision and this is compounded by the fact you working in an historic building. There are already three memorial windows in the church so my window had to sit alongside them and suit the life of the church too.

Then I had to collect the right glass. This was quite challenging because I used antique glass that is unique and I sourced it from France, Germany, England and Poland. I wanted to use materials from all over Europe to create this window, so it brings the countries together in harmony.

I do not have huge windows here in my workshop, so I can never predict how the light will work with the glass when a new window is installed. Even when a stained glass window is installed, the light will change all the time during the day. So there is always an element of surprise. Each time when I come back at a different time of the year or a different time of day, the window will look different.

When I installed my window in St John of Jerusalem, the sunlight was shining right through it and it made the colours appear very delicate but, when I returned on a duller day, the window surprised me by how intense the colour was. I know these things but, every time I look, it is almost like the first time again.”

Photographs copyright © Sarah Ainslie

Contact Piotr Frac direct to commission your own stained glass window

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Piotr Frac, Stained Glass Artist

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Ros permalink
    January 19, 2020

    That window looks superb! It reminds me of the Chagall windows at Tudeley you saw on what proved to be your last outing with Colin O’Brien. Beautifully photographed by Sarah and so interesting to read Piotr’s account.

  2. Linda Granfield permalink
    January 19, 2020

    The portrait of Mr. Frac is spectacular. One of the best portraits ever in SLife.

    And Ms. Pipe must have been pretty wonderful to have friends contribute such a piece of art in her memory. Worth a story?

  3. January 19, 2020

    Piotr, your work is absolutely breathtaking.

  4. Robin permalink
    January 19, 2020

    Georgeous! And thank you for the insights into the process of the window’s creation.

  5. January 20, 2020

    That is a Gorgeous Window!! Piotr Frac is Wonderful!!!?????????

  6. January 20, 2020

    I agree with Linda on both counts! I would love to know more about Ms. Pipe; as a librarian and manuscriptophile she sounds like my sort of person.

  7. JIll Wilson permalink
    January 20, 2020

    Lovely photos of a lovely window! And really lovely lighting effects (interesting to read what Piotr says about how the window changes all the time depending on the time of day, weather etc)

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