Category Archives: Leadlight
In about 1884, Herbert M. Smyrk and Charles Rogers were partners in the Melbourne stained-glass firm, Smyrk & Rogers, which was one of the few competitors to the leading local firm, Ferguson & Urie (c.1854-1899). However, unlike Ferguson & Urie whose work is widespread and relatively well-documented, far fewer windows have been positively identified as emerging from the Smyrk & Rogers workshop despite the unusual practice of signing their work. Most firms did not ‘advertise’ in this way but ‘Smyrk & Rogers 166 Lt. Collins St. East, Melbourne’ occasionally appears along the lower edge of their windows.
Fig. 1: Smyrk & Rogers window, address unknown, East Melbourne
Charles Rogers appears to have been the principal owner, but his partners changed over the years. Smyrk & Rogers was listed in the Sands & McDougall Directory of 1884 as ‘stained glass artists’ and ‘glass stainers’, situated at 166 Little Collins Street East, Melbourne. The Cyclopedia of Victoria Vol. 1 (1902) alluded to Smyrk & Rogers without naming the firm: ‘About the year 1884 two men, who were practically acquainted, one with the artistic and the other with the mechanical side of glass painting, started on their own account [in Melbourne], and quickly found plenty of work to do.’[i]
By 1887 the firm had built quite a reputation and received the ‘top colonial award’ (second prize) in the Adelaide Exhibition of that year, a fact that was highlighted in advertisements for many years.[ii] Not averse to publicity and no doubt keen to be associated with the latest trends, the firm advertised in the catalogue of the “9 x 5” Impressions Exhibition that created great interest in Australian landscape artists, Tom Roberts, Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton and others.
Fig 2: Smyrk & Rogers advertisement from the “9 x 5” Impressions Exhibition, Buxton’s Rooms, Melbourne 1889
Herbert Moesbury Smyrk (1861-1947), a colourful character who travelled throughout his life, was born at ‘Southall’, his family’s home in Guildford, Surrey.[iii] Against his father’s wishes and expectations for his son to pursue a career in England, Smyrk stowed away on a ship bound for America, landing in New York in the 1880s.[iv] Here he is believed to have begun designing for stained glass, a career that then took him to California. Then he spent a brief period in England[v] again before returning to Australia where he was ‘associated’ with Brooks, Robinson & Co. in 1884.[vi] It appears this too was a short-lived tenure as he was in partnership with Charles Rogers the same year.[vii]
An article on ‘Art Glass’ in the Australasian Builder & Contractors’ News, 28 April 1888, mentioned Smyrk & Rogers as ‘having studied the art of glass painting and designing in the best English and American shops…able to introduce a really good and taking style of modern glass painting’. The article listed a number of the firm’s windows-in-progress including the new Houses of Parliament, Adelaide; an Assention [sic] and six ornamental windows for suburban [Melbourne] churches; the Richmond Town Hall, as well as unnamed private residences. One residence of note was Amberley in East Melbourne (c1886) that featured a grand central entrance surround and the staircase windows by the firm.[viii]
Fig 3: Smyrk & Rogers, Staircase window and detail of signature, private residence, East Melbourne c.1886.
The figure designs for residential settings were derived from the Aesthetic Style and often featuring a central panel surrounded by several highly decorative borders. The image of the central panel could feature a reclining figure[ix] a dancing girl[x] or scenes from literature and the arts.[xi] There was considerable interest in Shakespeare around this period, and to install windows featuring scenes or characters from his plays was ‘fashionable, socially impressive, and evocative of old England and the romantic past’.[xii] The tercentenary of Shakespeare’s birth in 1864 was the likely impetus to the spate of stained glass designs based on Shakespearean texts and characters that emerged over the next twenty years.[xiii]
Fig 4: Smyrk & Rogers, details from stained glass in sidelight and transom, main entrance, private residence, East Melbourne c.1886.
Dissolution of Smyrk & Rogers
It seems that Herbert M. Smyrk and Charles Rogers parted company in 1888 and, according to their advertisements in the Australasian Builder & Contractors’ News, for a short period the firm became ‘H.M. Smyrk’.[xiv] However, Charles Rogers appears to have won the day and subsequent advertisements appeared under the banner ‘Charles Rogers & Co., formerly Smyrk & Rogers’.[xv]
Fig 5: Announcement of the dissolution of the Smyrk & Rogers partnership, Argus 21 September 1888, p. 5
Although the firm’s ecclesiastical works were not as widespread as other firms, such as Brooks, Robinson & Co. or William Montgomery, the firm’s commission for the north and south aisles of St. Mary’s Anglican Church, North Melbourne, carried out in 1887-8 during the ‘Boom’ period, stands out as ornamental design of a high order. A plaque in the nave of the church suggests that the firm was already ‘C.Rogers & Co.’ by the time the last of the windows was installed. Here, text ribbons were set into a typically Victorian geometric grisaille that bears some relationship to the firm’s contemporary domestic installations. The simple leadlights in the west wall were elegantly conceived as was a later series of soft pastel quarry windows of similar design installed at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Inverleigh in 1890.
Fig 6: Charles Rogers & Co., One of a series of decorative grisaille windows installed in memory of John G. Marley (d. 5 September 1887) by his widow, Elizabeth.
References to Smyrk’s career after the dissolving of the partnership show him careening around the world, rarely remaining in one place for long. Peter & June Donovan in their seminal work on South Australian stained and painted glass noted that in 1897 E.M. Troy, one of South Australia’s leading nineteenth century firms, ‘engaged H.M. Smyrk … a decorative artist of high repute’.[xvi] He may have worked in a freelance capacity as a Ferguson & Urie window (1896) for a window in memory of Councillor Ievers at St. George’s Catholic Church, Carlton was designed by him.[xvii] And he appears to have spent time in Western Australia too, as a stained glass window, The Good Shepherd, executed by ‘W.M. Smyrk’(sic) was one of many exhibits selected by the W.A. Royal Commission for the 1900 Paris Exhibition.[xviii]
The respected British journal The Studio (1893-1918), arbiter of style and taste, regularly featured images of stained glass and leadlight for residential locations. The 1909 edition of The Studio Yearbook of Decorative Art departed from the previous format and included brief profiles of stained glass artists and firms. Among them was Herbert Smyrk, Ruskin House, Rochester Row, Westminster, London, ‘a designer of stained glass and interior decoration … associated with Morris & Co. of Westminster, who executes his designs in stained glass’.[xix] The designs reproduced in The Studio do not directly relate to the Smyrk & Rogers work in Melbourne or Adelaide, but times and styles had changed significantly since the 1880s and a more simplified form of the art had developed.
And, according to The Salon (1913), Smyrk had associations with the Brisbane firm, R.S. Exton & Co. where ‘…[the leadlight] department is now under the management of Mr. Herbert M. Smyrk, who for many years was one of the principal artists in the studio of Messrs. William Morris & Co., Ruskin House, London.’ He may then have moved to Sydney as the Sands & Kenny Directory for 1915-1916 lists among the ‘Artists’, H.M. Smyrk, 5 Moore St.’
The exotic South Pacific lured him for a time, then (after a short trip to Adelaide in about 1926-27), the Society Islands, before he returned to California to complete a commission for the new Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles.[xx]
Fig 7: Photograph of Herbert Moesbury [Smyrk] in South Seas persona, Mail (Adelaide), 14 November 1925, p. 17
By 1935 Smyrk was once again in Sydney, employed as artist for Frank G. O’Brien at Waterloo.[xxi] Possibly he was working in a freelance capacity as at the same time he is reported as having completed two windows – Resurrection and Crucifixion – for St. Francis’ Church, Paddington and has two more under construction, Nativity and Christ in Heaven.[xxii]
Charles Rogers & Co. and Hughes, Rogers & Co.
Charles Rogers & Co. operated from cramped quarters at 89 Little Collins Street until 1890 when the firm moved to a substantial 4-storey brick building in Burns Lane, off Lonsdale Street.
During the Charles Rogers & Co. period a number of church commissions were fulfilled successfully but the figurative windows for All Saints’ Anglican Church, East St. Kilda, installed in 1889, were condemned by the Building & Engineering Journal as crudely designed and harshly coloured. Maybe the loss of Mr. Smyrk’s abilities was being felt.
In 1891 Charles Rogers went into partnership with the Clayton & Bell-trained artist, John Hughes who had been employed at Brooks Robinson & Co. for three years. The new firm became Hughes, Rogers & Co. of Burns Lane, Lonsdale Street.
Advertising in the usual way, the firm made much of its ‘Special Appointment to His Excellency the Governor’ and listed many of their ecclesiastical and domestic commissions (see list below). Hughes, Rogers & Co. continued advertising in the Building & Engineering Journal into the early 1890s. The journal also featured their work from time to time, including windows in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Collingwood (1891).[xxiii]
Fig 8: Hughes & Rogers, Nativity, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Collingwood 1891. John Hughes influence can be seen in the figure of Joseph that closely resembles similar facial expressions in Clayton & Bell windows at St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Melbourne and at St. John’s Anglican Church, Heidelberg.
The Building & Engineering Journal October 22, 1892 announced that a three-light window depicting the Crucifixion for the Convent of the Good Shepherd, South Melbourne (now demolished) was on display at the studios. In the same article Mr. Hughes was described as having ‘…a perfect knowledge of his art, and can apply it in a most artistic manner’.
In 1893 Hughes asked the journal to dispel rumours that he intended to leave Melbourne. Despite this assurance, he and Rogers parted shortly afterwards, and Mr. Rogers continued in business under his own name once again. John Hughes returned to England and there is no further mention of him in Melbourne’s stained-glass circles.
The depression of the 1890s saw most Melbourne stained glass firms close and by late 1898 C. Rogers & Co., now located at 167 Lt. Flinders Street Melbourne, was one of only five firms listed under ‘stained glass artists’ in the Sands & MacDougall Directories. By 1900, Ferguson & Urie had closed and it was also the last listing for Charles Rogers & Co. although the firm is believed to have survived for another few years.
Commissions (incomplete) From advertisements in the Building & Engineering Journal 1889
St. John’s Church, Camberwell (destroyed by fire)
St. Mary’s Church, North Melbourne
Holy Trinity Church, Coburg
All Saints’ Church, St. Kilda (unidentified)
Carmelite Convent, South Melbourne
Domestic & Public:
The Governor’s Residence, Mt. Macedon
Foxall’s Ballarat Star Hotel, Swanston Street
Dalgety & Co. Bourke Street west
Sir E.T. Smith, Adelaide
RA Stock Esq., Balaclava
J Detmold Esq., Balaclava
JA Panton, Esq., PM, St. Kilda
WJ Elliott’s Hotel, Bourke Street
[i] Cyclopedia of Victoria 1903, p.603.
[ii] Australasian Building & Contractors’ News, Vol.1 No.22, 15 October 1887, p.364.
[iii] Details of Smyrk’s early life are generally taken from his own recollections, reported in
[iv] Report of an interview with Herbert Moesbury [Smyrk] while he was in Adelaide, News, 3 November 1925, p.8.
[v] Possibly he was at Newcastle during this stay in England. Personal communication via email with the author, Tony Benyon, 27 September 2012.
[vi] News, 3 November 1925, p. 8.
[vii] Sands & Macdougall Directory, 1884.
[viii] Sighted by the author. The lack of documentation on the firm may be explained by this concentration on non-church commissions.
[ix] Image sighted from an unknown Albert Park (Vic.) residence.
[x] Sighted by the author at Halcyon, St. Kilda and Malvern (Vic.)
[xi] A set of Shakespearian windows by Smyrk & Rogers sighted by the author at Glenroy, Glenroy (Vic.)
[xii] Beverley Sherry, Australia’s Historic Stained Glass, p.44.
[xiii] See Beverley Sherry’s articles at https://glaasincresearch.wordpress.com/…/shakespearean-characters-in-stained-glass/
[xiv] Australasian Builder & Contractors’ News, Vol III, No 70, 1 September 1888.
[xv] Australasian Builder & Contractors’ News, Vol III, No 74, 6 October 1888.
[xvi] Peter & June Donovan, 150 Years of Stained & Painted Glass, p.37.
[xvii] Advocate, 15 February 1896, p.16.
[xviii] West Australian, 8 February 1900, p. 2.
[xix] The Studio Yearbook of Decorative Art, 1909, p.70-71.
[xx] Advertiser, 24 December 1929, p. 14. The majority of the original 1929 windows for this church were by Dixon Art Glass Company, Los Angeles; it is likely that Smyrk was a freelance designer. See http://immanuelpres.org/en/architecture/
[xxi] Catholic Press, 25 April 1935, p. 14.
[xxii] Catholic Press, 25 April 1935, p. 25.
[xxiii] The windows were unfortunately destroyed by fire in 2007.
Barnett Bros. was one of many glass firms and artists that set up their business in Perth in the late 1800s. A number of men came from Victoria, seeking to find a better financial climate than the depression that gripped the eastern states in that decade. Geoff Down noted that Barnett Bros. was one of eight firms listed in Melbourne’s 1895 Sands & MacDougall Directory; Barnett Bros. Perth business was founded in 1897. The first mention in the Perth press was when the firm removed from Barnett Court in Hay Street to larger premises at 491 Hay Street in 1898, which suggests it was already well-established in only a year of operation.
The firm was run by two Barnett brothers, Montague and Barend and, although less mention is made of Barend in the press, the firm and its principals were well-respected businessmen and contributors to various Perth charities and activities.
Barnett Bros. Local Competitors
Barnett’s competitors were Montgomery & Grimbly (a branch of William Montgomery’s Melbourne firm), Biss & Trowbridge, and Messrs. Sedgwick Limited. Montgomery & Grimbly of Moore Street, were probably the first of these firms to set up in Perth, possibly around 1887. As the practice was in his Adelaide branch, Montgomery designed and made the figure work in Melbourne, shipping it interstate where local men would complete the ornamentation, leadlighting and installation. In Perth, James Moroney, Montgomery & Grimbly’s leadlight foreman for many years, set up on his own behalf in 1899. In 1897, Biss & Trowbridge of 234 Murray Street, Perth, advertised for a smart youth to learn ‘leadlight glass work’, and in the same year, that a window by the firm was described in the local press as the first of this type made in the Swan River colony. However, in 1899, Biss retired from the partnership, amicably leaving the two remaining partners, W.H. Trowbridge and C. Staible to carry on the business as stained glass artists. Sedgwick’s, located at 126 William Street, Perth, was described in the West Australian as ‘oil and colour merchants’ although they were moving into leadlight and stained glass by 1898 when they installed a large leadlight window in the new Swan River Mechanics Institute, which featured swans at either side of the floral designs. Many of the windows by these firms remain unidentified in churches and public buildings around Western Australia but Barnett Bros. (as did William Montgomery) identified his windows by inscribing his name in the lower waster border of a window, making it possible to document a number of installations from the 1890s to the 1930s.
Artists at Barnett Bros.
Barnett Bros. reputation appears to have flourished after Herbert M. Smyrk joined the firm. Smyrk, an English-trained artist whose work was occasionally featured in the Arts & Crafts journal, The Studio, had been in partnership with Charles Rogers in Melbourne, but this partnership was dissolved in 1888. Peter & June Donovan in their seminal work on South Australian stained and painted glass noted that in 1897 E.M. Troy, one of South Australia’s leading nineteenth-century firms, ‘engaged H.M. Smyrk … a decorative artist of high repute’. But it seems he went further west and, by 1899 when Barnett Bros. work was selected to represent Western Australia in the 1900 Paris Exhibition, Smyrk was announced as the window’s designer; The Good Shepherd was awarded a bronze medal.
The peripatetic Mr. Smyrk apparently left Perth in the early 1900s, and from 1903, a Mr. H.H. Estcourt was credited with many designs for Barnett’s windows. He was yet another artist from Melbourne, although his time there is unrecorded. One of his first designs was an adaptation of William Holman Hunt’s Light of the World, which was executed for St. George’s Anglican Cathedral, Perth, the first cathedral window to be made locally.
Figures 1 and 2: H.H. Estcourt (designer) Barnett Bros. (maker), Light of the World, St. George’s Anglican Cathedral, Perth 1903. Detail of ‘Barnett Bros., Perth’, which regularly appeared on their windows.
A few months later, Barnett Bros. supplied windows throughout the Perth Law Courts, all manufactured to Estcourt’s designs. No doubt he was responsible for many designs, but only occasionally was his name mentioned in the newspapers. One important memorial was the east window at St. John’s Northam, the gift of Mr. and Mrs. George Throssell as a tribute to the soldiers who died in the Second Boer War, South Africa. The three-light window depicted St. James, Christ Teaching and St. John. At Christ Church, Claremont, his interpretation of the Good Samaritan was installed as a memorial to Fred Stacey, who had managed Harris, Scarfe in Western Australia, and Christ the Comforter for the Johnston Memorial Church, Fremantle. In 1914, Estcourt once again designed and executed another window for St. George’s Cathedral, Christ in the Garden of Gesthemane, taken from the famous painting by Hoffman.
Other commissions fulfilled by Barnett Bros. before the First World War included: Raising of Jairus’s Daughter (1909), Christ Church, Claremont; Christ with Child, and St. John (1909), St. John’s Albany; three-light window (1912), Dardanup Church (near Bunbury); Christ’s Temptation in the Wilderness (designed by J.W.R. Linton, 1912), St. George’s Anglican Cathedral, Perth. A war memorial window to Mrs. George Parker and her son, Gunner Ernest Parker, killed in action, was installed in St. George’s Cathedral in 1921.
Figure 3: Barnett Bros., Christ in the Wilderness, St. George’s Anglican Cathedral, Perth, 1921. [The subject is usually entitled Christ in the Garden at Gesthemane but this was reported to have been already made by the firm in 1903…]
The Barnett family suffered personal loss during the First World War when Lionel Barend, son of Montague and Julia Barnett, was killed in action on 15 August 1918. The twenty-year old was serving with the 11th Battalion when he lost his life and was buried at Lihons, France. His only sister, Florence served with the Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment during the war, was well-known for her social work and was a founder of the Claremont Braille Society; she died in 1921. The following year two stained glass windows – Ruth and Jonathan – designed and made by the firm, were installed in Christ Church, Claremont by the bereaved Barnett parents in memory of their children. Montague was reported as ‘stricken’ by the loss. Taking an overseas trip with his wife in 1925, he died suddenly of pneumonia while in France, aged 61.
Figure 4: Barnett Bros., Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church, Maylands, 1932. The window was commissioned by the Hibernian Society as a tribute to Parish Priest, the Rev. Father Lynch. Photograph: Daily News, 15 November 1932, p. 10.
The Barnett Bros. firm continued to operate in Perth until the late 1930s. Although the principals from that time are not known, it seems that Estcourt was still designing for the firm; in 1931 he designed two windows for Fairbridge Farm Church at Pinjarra. Sometimes the firm donated windows to various charitable organisations, such as the windows for ‘The Flying Angel’, Mission to Seamen Chapel at Fremantle in 1933 and Anzac House in 1934. When war was declared again in 1939, it is likely that the firm closed its glass department as stained glass was deemed to be a non-essential industry.
 This entry relies heavily on reports of leadlight and stained glass firms that appeared from time to time in the Western Australian press. Barnett Bros. was particularly diligent to make certain that local reporters received news of their latest glass work, however other firms may not have sought publicity in this way, thus giving a false impression of the importance of this firm. The author welcomes additional information and photographic examples of windows by all firms operating in this region of Australia.
 Geoffrey Down, ‘Nineteenth-Century Stained Glass in Melbourne, MA thesis, University of Melbourne, 1975, p. 112. West Australian, 11 December 1925, p. 12.
 West Australian, 14 May 1898, p. 2.
 Montague Barnett emigrated from England in 1882 and, as well as Barend, included other brothers, Lionel (London), J[ames?] (Perth), Leopold (Sydney) and three sisters, Mesdames Glick, Kosminsky and Solomons. West Australian, 11 December 1925, p. 1.
 W.C. Trowbridge probably was another of the Victorians who headed west; along with Barnett Bros., he is listed in the 1895 Sands & MacDougall Directory, Melbourne.
 West Australian, 2 September 1899, p. 2.
 West Australian, 2 September 1899, p. 2.
 West Australian, 23 November 1899, p. 4. Trowbridge & Staible refuted Barnett Bros.’ claim as the makers of the ‘first’ locally-made window, citing a report in the West Australian from two years earlier. West Australian, 29 November 1899, p. 4.
 West Australian, 14 May 1898, p. 2.
 Peter & June Donovan, 150 Years of Stained & Painted Glass, p. 37.
 West Australian, 23 November 1899, p. 4; 9 December 1899, p. 6; 8 February 1900, p. 2; Western Mail, 25 August 1900, p. 48.
 Western Mail, 17 January 1903, p. 10.
 Western Mail, 17 January 1903, p. 10. Most of St. George’s windows to that date were imported from the London firm, Clayton & Bell.
 West Australian, 8 June 1903, p. 7.
 West Australian, 26 June 1905, p. 7.
 West Australian, 13 June 1911, p. 7.
 West Australian, 17 April 1911, p. 4.
 West Australian, 22 June 1914, p. 6.
 West Australian, 25 March 1921, p. 4. Ernest Parker was a 32 year-old solicitor, in partnership with his father prior to the war. NAA: B2455, Parker Ernest Frederick.
 NAA: B2455, Barnett, L.
 West Australian, 22 April 1922, p. 8.
 West Australian, 11 December 1925, p. 12.
 Daily News, 10 December 1925, p. 2. Barend Barrett pre-deceased his brother Montague in November 1922. Montague was survived by his wife Julia and one son, Cleve Barnett.
 West Australian, 9 December 1931, p. 16.
 West Australian, 10 May 1933, p. 6.
 West Australian, 21 August 1934, p. 14. It was estimated that the donation of a fully-painted window was about £150. West Australian, 9 November 1933, p. 12.
Helen Walsh (b. 1930) has been involved in designing and making glass since the early 1970s, and was at the forefront of the craft resurgence that followed soon after. Like many of those who were fascinated with glass at the time but had nowhere to learn the basic techniques, Helen devised her own learning by asking questions and experimenting with glass.
She asked the glazier who came to fix her broken window ‘how to make leadlight’ and was told that you ‘put the lead around a piece of glass’, which – to say the least – rather undersold the skill and precision required, and no mention was made of solder! Not to be daunted, Helen instigated ‘Araldite parties’, asking friends to help by holding the glass pieces against an existing window for the requisite 5 minutes until the epoxy went ‘off’. Needless to say, as arms tired, there were some quite disastrous (and hilarious) results.
Soon after this period of experimentation, Helen found E.L. Yencken & Co. in Gaffney Street, Coburg (Vic.) and, more importantly, Charlie Marshall, who was head of the lead light department. In Helen’s words, ‘he was a brilliant worker and I used to spend ages with him every time I went to Yenckens. I hung around and asked “WHY WHY” and he spent hours telling me why and how. So I owe a lot to him.’ And, to extend her skills, Helen attended Klaus Zimmer’s glass-painting classes at Caulfield (now Monash University) where she met and learned from Basil Barber, a visiting English master glass-painter. They got along famously and while travelling in the UK Helen stayed at his dilapidated mansion near London. She still has his gift of two 100+year-old pieces of glass as a memento of the visit and their friendship.
Fig. 1: Swing tag from ‘The Lead Balloon’, 1970s.
Working with a group of women at that time, she intended to set up a co-operative studio but ultimately opened The Lead Balloon at 108 Bridport Street, Albert Park in conjunction with the graphic artist Elana Zdane. The main focus of her business was designing, making and installing domestic leadlight, as well as restoring the Victorian and Edwardian stained glass and leadlight that abounds in the bayside suburb areas around Albert Park and South Melbourne. However, she also fulfilled commercial and church commissions. Two significant works were the major four panel ‘Fairies’ commission she created for Gill’s Grendon Nursery in Hampton (Vic.) in the 1980s in collaboration with Jenny Pyke of Regeneration, and the window she crafted to the design of stained glass artist Klaus Zimmer – his first church commission – for St. Louis de Montford Church, Aspendale (Vic.) in 1973.
Interior of Gill’s Grendon Nursery, Centre Road, East Brighton
Photographer: Melanie Ryan
Teaching has been a part of Helen’s career – in her Albert Park studio, at the Council for Adult Education, filling in for Derek Pearse, and running courses at Monash. Through her teaching she introduced many others to the art and craft of glass, including Graham Stone and Nick and Eva Georgiadis. A significant outreach to a younger (as well as older) generation was through her appearances on the Channel 7 (HSV7 in those days) educational program, This Week has Seven Days, with Shirley Shackleton. She is a founding member of Melbourne Artists in Glass.
Since leaving the Albert Park business in the late 1970s, Helen has continued to kiln form glass, with wall hangings, plates, bowls and platters becoming the canvas for her glass painting. She often uses float glass, a legacy from the time when coloured glass was in short supply and draws on her extensive travels, as well as photographic images from sources such as National Geographic. Helen explained that she ‘wanted to preserve and own [the photographs]’ and painting her interpretations on glass captured them for all time.
Fig. 2: Boys Fishing 1961, 500 x 500 x 8 mm float glass. Inspiration for this work was a National Geographic photograph, taken in the Cook Islands. ‘So entranced was I that am sure they were speaking to me as I reproduced them.’
In 2013 she was the featured artist at the Festival of Glass held annually at Drysdale (Vic.). Naturally, Helen’s has created leadlights that suit her Inter-War period home and she surrounds herself with unusual and quirky works of art, including a superbly drawn cartoon by Basil Barber. Outside her Yarraville studio a hand-crafted glass fountain gently flows to provide background music to the day’s work.
Designed by Jenny Pyke and Helen Walsh, crafted by Helen Walsh, The Lead Balloon
Photographer: Melanie Ryan
b. 1809, Hampshire UK d. 28 May 1874, Mount Barker SA.
Edward Brooks arrived in South Australia on 22 March 1839, having completed his apprenticeship as a painter and glazier with his uncle, John Beare of New Sarum, and probably to join another uncle, Thomas Hudson Beare already living in Adelaide.
He immediately gained employment as a painter and glazier but also provided leadlight windows for clients. He appears to have entered business on his own behalf around 1851 when he advertised his Oil, Colour, Glass and Paint Warehouse in Rundle Street, and Kermode Street, North Adelaide in the South Australian Register. He touted his experience in ‘the three oldest shops in the mother-country, conducted by his relatives’ and expressed a wish ‘to give entire satisfaction in all work entrusted to his care, having determined to execute all work in pure English style’.
In 1855 he executed a single-light window, Faith, Hope and Charity, for Mr. F.T. Dutton, as a memorial to his late wife, which was erected in Christ Church Anglican, North Adelaide. The window was made up largely of gilded text and was replced in 1901 by a figurative window, Justice and Charity, designed and made by James Powell & Sons in London, a memorial to Mr. and Mrs. Dutton.
The majority of Edward Brooks windows appear to be relatively simple leadlights or zinc lights that were in keeping with the modest buildings of that time and, as was the case at Christ Church, many of his windows have been replaced with figurative stained glass as donors and funds allowed. However, extant examples can be seen in churches at Robe, Burra, Gawler, Moonta as well as inner city Adelaide. A series of windows dedicated to his uncle, Thomas Hudson Bearre, was installed at Yankalilla in 1861 and St. John’s at Salisbury contains nine windows by Brooks.
It seems that it was not all plain sailing for Brooks as he appeared in the Insolvency Courts in 1852 and did not appear to declare a final dividend until 23 May 1954. Apparently he continued to trade, as in 1853 he took an employee, Frederick Sutch, to court for embezzling monies ‘from his master’ in January and February of that year. The man pleaded guilty of theft of 36 shillings and 18 shillings on two separate occasions, which resulted in a prison sentence of six months.
Brooks lived at Kermode Street, North Adelaide with his wife Rachel (d.1900) and had two sons, Charles Henry and William Hudson. Brooks died unexpectedly while supervising the installation of windows at the Mount Barker Catholic Church; William continued the business for some time after his father’s death. It seems that William generally maintained the 1860s style and techniques of his father and was responsible for glazing the windows at the Stirling Catholic Church in 1883.
Donovan and Donovan, 150 Years of Stained & Painred Glass, pp.32-33
South Australian Register, 1850-1901
Last updated 18/02/12