The new St Mary’s (as of 2014) is a beautiful church, but it’s the stunning stained glass window which catches most people’s attention. It was designed by Rachel Phillips, a course lecturer at Swansea School of Glass, after a competition involving the church congregation, local school pupils and university students and staff.
An Easter Window
The brief was a window which would incorporate Christian, school and community motifs, and also celebrate Easter, marking the day when the new church opened – the resurrection of St Mary’s Church!
Easter is the most important day of the year for Christians. Here we celebrate the resurrection of our Saviour Jesus – the “risen, conquering Son” as the old hymn puts it. It’s a moment which must have inspired the architects of the old St Mary’s as they chose to depict an Easter scene for their main stained glass window. We decided to follow their example for our new window too – the winning design uses a figurative description of Jesus ‘bursting from the tomb’ on the first Easter Morning.
How the Design was Chosen
The design of the window stretches back to Summer 2013, where every pupil at the Coppice contributed a design idea whilst Year 12 Woodrush students submitted concepts for the window as part of their BTEC coursework.
The resulting design brief was sent to the stained glass department at the University of Swansea for their designers to work on. This included a number of the best designs from the two schools, including one by Year 1 pupil Ellie Wheatcroft which was a particular inspiration for the winning design.
Meanwhile, here in Wythall, a team from Swansea School of Glass came to offer the children a day’s workshop working with real stained glass. Take a look in our new foyer where the resulting artwork is displayed.
Rachel’s design, entitled “Resurrection Garden”, stood out from a shortlist of thirteen excellent entries from students and staff at Swansea. She has designed windows for a number of churches already as well as the Royal Chapel at Conwy Castle.
The new window was paid for by a ‘gift day’ appeal to the congregation of St Mary’s on 16th February 2014, which due to the exceptional generosity of church members raised the total in full!
For more about Rachel Phillips’s work see her website www.rachelphillipsglass.com.