Feb 2 2012: From Anthony Symondson to Mr Bulmer-Thomas on the Subject of Stained Glass (St Andrew’s, 16 March 1966)

Early last year, as part of the Bookmark Project at Nottingham Contemporary, I manufactured a fake letter from a fictional artist, Robert Holcombe, to a very real artist, Eduardo Paolozzi, and hoped that inserting this fabrication into a book in the study’s library would grant the object a certain authenticity, as though the correspondence had been used as a bookmark then forgotten. The letter above is a genuine version of the same letter-as-bookmark notion that inspired my Holcombe to Paolozzi facsimile last year, having been found abandoned inside an actual secondhand book, where it had presumably been inserted back in 1966. The letter’s content relates to the book’s architectural subject, too, being a discussion concerning efforts to replace some stained glass in the style of Charles Eamer Kempe at a Church in London’s EC4 and floating the idea of an approach to John Piper. While Piper did create some windows for a St Andrew’s Church in Portsmouth, I assume the reference in this letter is not to that commission, but rather to the Church of St Andrew’s by the Wardrobe, EC4, whose interior and font can be seen here. The large arched window visible in this photograph suggests either that no commission followed this 1966 letter or that a long exposure has been used and this has concealed the finer details of the window. Photographs of two further stained glass windows at this church, taken recently by John Salmon, can be seen here and here, though none of the designs shown is credited to a maker, or looks as though it might post-date 1966. Perhaps the Kempe glass the correspondents were considering in the second paragraph here did suit the style of the church’s existing windows after all and ended up being used instead.

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