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BARBER, Basil E.E. (1910-1992)

English stained glass artist and designer, Basil Edward Errington Barber (1910-1992) made few windows for Australia and even in his home country Barber is not among the well-known artists in glass.[1]

He began his career in the late 1920s when he was apprenticed in the studio and workshop of Sir Ninian Comper.  He rose to become Comper’s chief studio designer, and, among many significant commissions, was responsible for glass-painting the detailed and complex Heraldic insignia of the massive memorial window (1000 sq. ft.) in St. Stephen’s Porch, Westminster Hall of the House of Commons, London.  The window, designed by Sir Ninian Comper and dedicated by Winston Churchill, replaced the original Pugin window that was destroyed during a Second World War bombing raid in December 1940.

In the early 1950s Barber opened an independent studio.  Churches were re-building after the ravages of the war and many new windows were commissioned as war memorials.  His commissions included the east and west windows of St. John the Baptist, Eltham, London, completed in 1952.[2]  As at Westminster Hall, few windows survived the Second World War and one window was made from glass fragments, possibly as a potent reminder of the destruction caused by war.   Barber’s windows are distinctive for his understanding of light that he believed should imbue a church’s interior with an uplifting atmosphere reminiscent of the 15th century and in marked contrast to the dim religious light that pervaded much of nineteenth-century Victorian glass.

Barber St Augustine Swindon

Figure 1: Basil EE Barber, St. Peter, St. Augustine’s Parish Church, Even Swindon, Wiltshire, (UK) 1955.  D&M Ball, September 2004. See Duncan and Mandy Ball website:

For a (copyright) image of Barber’s three-light William Tyndale Window at Whiteladies Road Baptist Church, Clifton see

In 1954, Barber moved to Bristol to work at Joseph Bell & Son, a firm that had been established in 1840, but passed from family hands in 1923 when the business was sold to Arnold Robinson.  After Robinson’s death in 1955, Barber managed the business, continuing until 1959 when Arnold’s son, Geoffrey Robinson, took over the business.  Comper, Robinson and Barber came together again many year later in the early 1970s when Barber was called upon by Robinson to undertake the mammoth task of re-ordering several 1905-6 Comper windows for the Scottish Episcopal Church of St. Magnus, Lerwick on the Shetland Islands.[3] The windows had been stored after their removal from the Chapel of the Sisters of Charity in 1968.  Barber spent 450 hours, preparing and painting diamond quarries and borders sympathetic to Comper’s style and thus creating a ‘most authentic reconstruction’.[4]  Robinson retired and the firm closed in 1996.[5]

Barber fulfilled more than 50 independent commissions, mainly around the city of Bristol and the Somerset region in the 1950s and 1960s.[6]  His exemplary skills were recognised by his peers when he was elected as an Associate (c.1954) and then a Fellow of the British Society of Master Glass-Painters (1956).  In Australia in 1977 Basil Barber was invited by Klaus Zimmer as a visiting lecturer in design and glass-painting at Caulfield Institute of Technology (now Monash University), Victoria, where his influence was soon felt.[7]

Joseph Burke, Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne recommended and encouraged Barber which led to commissions for Australian clients, including a roundel for the Australian Academy of the Humanities, commissioned by Honorary Fellow of the Academy, Kenneth Myer.[8]  Barber was not only a highly skilled glass-painter but also a noted authority on heraldry, as exemplified by his interpretation of the Academy’s Coat of Arms and Crest in the roundel.

Barber Basil EE Roundel Aust College Humanities

Figure 2: Basil EE Barber, Heraldic stained glass roundel, Australian Academy of the Humanities, n.d.

His skills in heraldic symbolism were again to the fore when he was commissioned by the trading firm, Heine Brothers for a panel based on a family tapestry.  The panel represented the history of the Heine family in Hamburg and was made as a gift from the Heine sons to their father.  It was installed in the firm’s Queens Road, Melbourne headquarters where was artificially lit.  Sadly, a window commissioned by the Baillieu family for the Church of the Good Shepherd, Mount Macedon (Vic) was lost in the Ash Wednesday bushfires in February 1983.

A single window at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Box Hill (Vic) was installed in 1979, thought to be the first of a full cycle devised in conjunction with the incumbent, the Reverend James Robertson Senior.[9]   Instead it became Rev. Senior and his wife Jean’s gift to the Parish when they left for Inverloch in 1976.  The subject of the design, selected by Senior, was the great Church of England scholar Rev. Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) who was closely involved with the English translation of the King James Bible.

Box Hill St Peters Anglican (4)                         Box Hill St Peters Anglican (5)

Figure 3: Basil EE Barber, St. Anselm and Lancelot Andrewes (and detail of lower section), St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Box Hill (Vic), 1979

This window is dedicated to the glory of GOD as a thank-offering from James Robertson Senior and his wife Ivy Jean Senior for the opportunities of worship & service in this parish over forty years. A.D. 1979.  [Note the tiny beehive rebus in the lower right hand corner, near the dedicatory inscription]

Basil Barber upheld the finest artistic and Christian traditions of the art of glass painting throughout his life, dedicated to producing his most thoughtful and resolved work for every commission, despite the constraints imposed by clients.  His humble and retiring nature is possibly why his art is not better known in Britain, and Australia.  In his later years he undertook small commissions and used his extensive skills to conserve some of Britain’s historic stained glass.

After a full life dedicated to stained glass, he retired about 1990.  However, he did not retire from art at all, continuing to fill his sketchbooks with drawings from the life around him, and to teach children at the local primary school.  He founded ‘The What’s-It-Club’ for seniors where he promoted the idea that expressing oneself through art should be fun, even if the drawings were unidentifiable to others.

Barber Basil EE Age 1977 cropped

Figure 4: Basil EE Barber, from the Age, Melbourne, 2 July, 1977


[1] I am indebted to the generous assistance of Basil Barber’s daughter, Pam Crozier, for her recollections and knowledge of her father’s work, which has added enormously this entry, and to Helen Walsh for putting the two of us in touch.  Some details of Barber’s career and references from the archive deposited by his daughters and published in Elizabeth Lomas, Guide to the Archive of Art and Design, Victoria & Albert Museum. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, c2001.  See V&A files: AAD/1994/12; AAD/2003/17.


[3] Journal of the British Society of Master Glass-Painters, 1973-74, XV ii, p. 61.

[4] ibid.

[5] The author has found only one installation attributed to Geoffrey Robinson in Australia: a pair of lights at St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Derrinallum (Vic.), in memory of James Fairbairn, Federal Minister for Air and Civil Aviation who was tragically killed in an air crash near Canberra in 1940.

[6] Material held by the V&A Archives include many of his original drawings, designs and drafts for church windows across England, including St. Andrew’s Church, Compton Bishop, Axbridge, Christ Church at Pill, Somerset, St. John’s Church, Spalding in Lincolnshire, St. Aldhelm’s Church, Bedminster, Bristol, All Saints’ Church, West Dulwich, Redland Park Congregational Church and St. Saviour’s Church, Weston-super-Mare.  Information kindly forwarded by Pam Crozier by email, 30 January 2017.

[7] See Nancy Dexter, ‘Reflections of a glass worker’, Age, 2 July 1977, forwarded by Pam Crozier by email, 30 January 2017 .  Communication with Helen Walsh.


[9] Communication with Pam Crozier by email, 26 September 2016.


WALSH, Ailsa Helen (formerly HUNT, née GOUGH)


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.

Walsh swing tag Lead Balloon006


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.

Walsh Gills Grendon Nursery East Brighton 4 interior

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.

Walsh 2016 Boys Fishing

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

BROOKS, Edward

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


AKERBLOM, Peter (Lennart Per-olof)

b. 1950, Lysekil Sweden

Immigrated with his father, Per Ivar Akerblom, to Australia post-Second World War.  Arrived at Maribyrnong Migrant Hostel in Melbourne on a Sunday and used the local ‘Pink Pages’ telephone directory to find suitable employment.  He began working at E.L. Yencken & Co. immediately, watching the experienced hands at first, before moving to cutting blocks of glass – 66 sheets in a block.  His father worked for the window manufacturer, Stegbar and later Peter joined him there, cutting glass for house lots.

Akerblom started making leadlight windows in his spare time and Akerblom Snr. opened Leadlight and Art at North Road, Ormond where both men worked before Akerblom Snr. founded Armadale Stained Glass with Bruce Jones in 1974, then based in High Street, Armadale.  Akerblom Snr. retired and Norman Beilby joined the firm.  Akerblom, Beilby and Jones worked together for eight or nine years.

Akerblom ‘retired’ in 1986 and was working as a builder when he answered an advertisement for a leadlight craftsman at Caulfield Leadlight.   He entered a short-term partnership with Warren Scanlan which lasted for the next 15 years, until Warren retired.  The firm became Caulfield Leadlight Pty. Ltd. in 2002 and continues to operate under this name, although it is now based in the Berwick/Narre Warren area of Melbourne.

Last updated 10/o2/09


BEH19 Jan 2011

BURNS, Vic (Victor Edward)

b. 1924 Richmond Vic.

It was not until 1980 that Vic Burns became a student of Klaus Zimmer’s at Caulfield Institute of Technology. His first commission was eight stained glass windows for a (unamed) Thornbury church which began a 26-year career making 123 windows for 32 churches, chapels and schools. He has always worked in a home-based studio without assistants using leadlight, stained glass and dalle de verre methods of construction.

In 1986 Burns designed a stained glass window of ‘The Nativity at Uluru’ to be the cover of The Advocate Press. It received the Religious Press Association award for the Most Original Design of 1986.

Major Works:

Portrait of Graham Arthur (Capt. 1961), Hawthorn Football Club, Waverley, Vic. 1990

Christ Child with the Elders in the Temple, St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, Camberwell, Vic. 1993

Christ; Madonna (dalle de verre), Jesuit College Chapel, Kew, Vic. 1993

Mary McKillop and Caroline Chisholm; Portrait of Rev. Fr. Pedro Arrupe, St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Richmond, Vic. 1994, 1996

41 dalle de verre windows, St. Peter’s Chanel Catholic Church, Deer Park, Vic. 1997-2006

Christ’s Supper at Emmaus, St. Columb’s Anglican Church, Hawthorn, Vic. 2000

Stained glass window, Kilbreda College, Mentone, Vic. 2002

A Missionary Journey, Convent, Highgate, Perth, WA. 2002

Single dalle de verre window, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Malvern, Vic. 2006

Current studio:

Retired in 2008

Last updated 10/9/2009


LE CORNU, Leonie

Nee: Piper; Matthews

b. 1954 Broken Hill, NSW

Attended Art School Wollongong Technical College, 1971.

Employed at Victorian Leadlight Magic Studio in 1992 as artist and maker of domestic and ecclesiastical stained glass. From 1993 to 2000 she ran Leonie Matthews Stained Glass, Wodonga, Vic. and has been in Sydney since 2000.

Major Works:

The Resurrection and six altar windows, Christ Church, Tallangatta, Vic. 1994

Jasper Memorial window (St. Cecelia), St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, Rutherglen, Vic. 1995

Entire church, Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Albury, NSW. 1995-2001

Kiln-formed tiles with inclusions, Border Medical Imaging (reception desk), Albury, NSW. 1996

Lieschke Family Memorial windows, St. Barnabas’ Anglican Church, Henty, NSW. 1996-7

Habermann Memorial windows (Jesus and Child); Wenke Memorial windows (Angel), Zion Lutheran Church, Walla Walla, NSW. 1997, 1998

Mary McKillop window, St. Joseph’s Catholic School, Nurmurkah, Vic. 1998

Voyage of St. Brendan, St. Brendan’s Primary School Library, Shepparton, Vic. 1999

Jesus and the Children, St. John’s Anglican Church, Corowa, NSW. 2002

Stephenson and Davey Memorial windows, St. John the Baptist Anglican Church, Lennox Head, NSW. 2003

Current studio:

Leonie Le Cornu Stained Glass

141 Kingsway Cronulla NSW 2230



Last updated 18/1/09


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