A Fragile Heritage
Cambridge - Wednesday 6th September 2017
Aspects of Historic Glass
article posted 8 Aug 2017
Mylène Vigneron, stained glass conservator at Rainbow Glass Studio, Prestwick, Scotland.
Alison Robertson, Honorary Secretary of the Scottish Stained Glass Trust.
Meredith Macbeth, stone and stained glass conservator.
National Record of Stained Glass in Scotland
Mylène Vigneron*, Alison Robertson & Meredith Macbeth.
Online catalogue of the Scottish artist Crear McCartney
SSGT (Scottish Stained Glass Trust)
The Scottish artist Robert John Crear McCartney (1931-2016) was a very prolific artist. He created over hundred and twelve commissions (more than 150 windows) mostly in Scotland but also at St Eval, Cornwall and in the USA for a University Chapel in the state of Indiana.
Crear McCartney was born on the 4th of February 1931 in Lanark, Scotland. At an early age he developed a real talent for drawing, which was fostered by a Polish artist sheltered by his parents during the Second World War. Crear pursued his training at the Glasgow School of Art where he gained a Diploma in Art, followed by a post-graduate qualification in stained glass design (in the department of Murals, Glass and Mosaics.) The head of that department was Mr Walter Pritchard, husband of the stained glass artist Sadie McLellan. Crear had a real passion for stained glass and was eager to expand his horizons. He went to Europe and visited many cathedrals and churches, marvelling particularly at the beautiful windows in Chartres.
He was really impressed by the rose window there which became his favourite shape in terms of creation. Although he was destined for a stained glass career, in 1961, Crear went into teaching (secondary school) to provide for his family, but never stopped making stained glass windows. It was not until 1988 that he went full-time into stained glass. Crear McCartney produced a vast array of work inspired by poetry, literature and spirituality. Amongst his most famous windows are his 850th Anniversary West Window in Saint Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall which was dedicated in the presence of H.M the Queen (Figure 1). This window, with its vibrant and deep colours, reflects perfectly the theory of colours that Crear McCartney used in his creations. Another important creation is his Pentecost Window consisting of six lancets in two stages with a rose window above in Saint Katherine Aisle in Saint Michael?s church in Linlithgow (Figure 2). Crear confessed that this latest was his favourite window. He also created windows related to Scotland with for instance the Guildry Window in the Kirk of the Holy Rude, Stirling (Figure 3).He also did memorial windows such as a window in memory of John Rae named The Seasons in Biggar Parish (Figure 4).
Like many contemporary stained glass artists, Crear's work has not been publicly recorded and compiled for future generations to come. Research has been carried out and information gathered by various researchers working with Alison Robertson, the Honorary Secretary of the SSGT (Scottish Stained Glass Trust) over the last six years, as well as by Crear's family and friends to compile a catalogue of his work. Crear himself made his own catalogue of his creations although it is incomplete. Since February 2017, Mylène Vigneron has been recording the unique work of Crear McCartney with a view to entering it into SSGT's SCRAN database. This online database was started by the SSGT in 2015 in order to provide more information about stained glass windows in Scotland and raise awareness about the stained glass craft. It is hoped that the SSGT database will eventually do justice to Scotland's great collection of 19th and 20th century glass, which is one of the best in the world. It will also contribute to enhancing the status of Scottish artists and their creations.
The database is fully searchable, as intended, and searches can be by building name, subject or theme, stained glass artist of company, named individuals, dates, Biblical texts, and by topics.
The SSGT is hoping to get more people involved in the recording process all over Scotland. Training days are organised to teach volunteers how to record a window properly in order to keep building up the database. The SSGT would also like to connect up seasoned iconographers with novice data-inputters to provide accurate windows descriptions and iconography. The creation of the SCRAN online database is a remarkable initiative, well received by practitioners, parish churches and artists in Scotland but still needs volunteers to speed up the growth of the content of SSGT's Scran in a Box database.