I had the pleasure of visiting Caroline and Tony Benyon’s studio recently to see the new window they have made for the OBE chapel in St Paul’s Cathedral. I spent three hours sketching the beautifully painted glass and learning how it had been made.
Most of the glass they used was over a hundred years old and simply isn’t available any more. Soft greys and tints were balanced with a wide range of rubies and deep blues. The window sparkled, even though it was overcast. I was particularly interested in the painting. Line and cross hatching created tone, thus allowing the glass to shine through. I don’t normally like faceless heads, but here there was enough drawing to suggest the shapes of necks and chins. Caroline had deliberately left the features out of the spirit figures and focused instead on their hands supporting each other.
The window has now been installed in the crypt at St Paul’s. It is too high to study closely, so I am delighted I saw it in the studio. From a distance the shadows of the iron ferramenta outside played across the surface as the April sun illuminated the glowing figures. It was wonderful to see some masterful stained glass commissioned for such an important building.