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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.

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.

 

 

ATKINSON Bros.

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.

References:

Donovan and Donovan, 150 Years of Stained & Painred Glass, pp.32-33

South Australian Register, 1850-1901

Last updated 18/02/12

BEH

DANCEY, George Henry

Cartoon for St. Mary's Catholic Church, Kyneton by George Henry Dancey c.1910

b. 1865 [U.K.] d. 1922 Melbourne, Vic.

George Henry Dancey was cartoonist, mural and stained glass designer, apprenticed to a leading London ecclesiatical designers, Clayton & Bell from the age of 13.  He is rumoured to have worked on the windows for St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Melbourne, before leaving London for the colony due to ill-health, arriving in 1891. By 1894 he was employed as a political cartoonist at the Melbourne Punch, and chief cartoonist from 1998, a position he held (except for further periods of ill-health) until 1919.  His skillful comments on the issues of the moment show his wit was equal to his artistic talents, with notable examples during the First World War.  In 1916 he and Charles Nuttall held a major exhibition of their cartoons which travelled to London after a successful showing in Melbourne.

He was able to utilise his extensive skills as a artist and cartoon maker for windows and murals at Brooks, Robinson & Co., Melbourne, probably on a freelance basis.  His most successful collaboration was with Brooks, Robinson’s resident stained glass artist, William Wheildon (1873-1941) who joined the firm in 1905 and became his close colleague and friend; Wheildon preparing the initial scale drawing and Dancey making the full-sized cartoon.  They produced many of the firm’s most successful windows of the early twentieth century.

Dancey’s cartoons were so prized by the firm that they were stored carefully and re-used on numerous occasions until the 1960s when the firm closed.  His cartoons reveal his obsession with drapery, believed to have been ignited by the Classical style of Sir Frederick Layton RA.  Among his most successful cartoons was the Light of the World, his ‘Leighton-like’ draping of Christ’s robe distinctly different from Holman Hunt’s original that was Brooks, Robinson’s most popular subject of the first half of the twentieth century.  It was only surpassed in the latter years of the firm by Dancey’s Good Shepherd.

Dancey’s designs for stained glass and murals usually appeared under the name of Brooks, Robinson & Co. however, his signature did appear on some of his murals, including the Hector Algenon Tause memorial (1916) at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Mentone (Vic.) and St. Michael Honour Roll at Christ Church Anglican, St. Kilda (Vic.) (1921).  A few of his beautifully drawn cartoons survive in private collections.

He was an exhibiting member of the Victorian Artists’ Society c.1901-1910; Councillor VAS 1905.

Major Works:

Reaper and Sower, St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Woodend, Vic.

The Life of Christ, Our Lady of the Rosary, Kyneton, Vic. 1911

St. George, Christ Church, Murchison, Vic. 1915

Transfiguration of Christ, St. John’s Anglican Church, Toorak Vic. 1921

References:

McCulloch, The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, 3rd ed. 1994, p.22; Fred John’s Annual of 1914; Age, 26 December 1922; Argus, 26 December 1922; Australian, 30 December 1922; Joan Kerr, ‘George Henry Dancey’, http://www.daaao.org.au/main/read/2014

BEH

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

VB

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

e: lecornucopia@optusnet.com.au

w: http://www.leonielecornu.com

Last updated 18/1/09

LeC

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