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Free public lecture explores the work of female stained glass designers in the Arts and Crafts Movement

A free public lecture, exploring the original contribution of the Arts and Crafts Movement to the field of stained glass design will take place at University Centre Shrewsbury on Tuesday 10th January at 6pm. 

In her talk, Arts and Crafts Stained Glass: Margaret Rope’s Windows Onto Heaven, art historian, Dr Claire FitzGerald, will focus on female artists active in the Edwardian period, and especially Shrewsbury-born Margaret Rope.

She will discuss how, in the early 20th Century, British women artists carved a space for themselves alongside their male counterparts inside the world of stained glass making. Dr FitzGerald is particularly knowledgeable about the advances in stained glass design at the time.

The lecture will address female participation in the field of Arts and Crafts stained glass, looking at Shrewsbury-native Margaret A Rope’s (1882-1953) oeuvre in particular. A student of the progressive Birmingham Municipal School of Art at the dawn of the 20th Century, Rope learnt her craft under the guidance of Henry Payne (1868-1940). This entailed an integrated approach to design, in which the artist was involved throughout the process of its realisation. A love for the compositional strength and quality of materials found in medieval windows was combined with contemporary design and techniques.

Moved by a deep engagement with Catholicism, Margaret Rope’s art decorates Catholic edifices across Great Britain, as well as in Italy and Australia. Alongside the analysis of the rich symbolism and narrative quality of her windows, a case will be made for the compatibility of some of the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement with Rope’s journey of faith. The continuation of her artistic career from within a Carmelite convent offers an intriguing model for the logistics of artistic production. It also created specific conditions which would contribute to the process of the erasure of her presence from art history. This talk thus participates in the efforts to reinstate her reputation, fuelled by the ongoing exhibition of her work at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery.

The lecture will complement the current exhibition at Shrewsbury Museum, Margaret Agnes Rope – The Untold Story, which runs until January 2017.

Dr Claire FitzGerald is an art historian, who specialises in late 19th- and early 20th-century British art and design. She recently completed a PhD at the University of Warwick, which was funded by a University of Warwick Chancellor’s Scholarship. Her thesis focused on Birmingham-trained craftswomen working in book-illustration, tempera painting, stained glass and embroidery. She is currently preparing elements of her research for publication. Lately, her attribution of a long-lost embroidery to the artist Mary Newill received attention in the media.

The lecture will take place at the Guildhall (Frankwell) site of the University. The event is free but booking is required. Please email [email protected]

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