St Mary’s Church in Wythall have been drawing on youth for inspiration for the stained glass window in their new church building. And this week, as a fabulous prize for competition winners, pupils from The Coppice primary school and Woodrush High have had the chance to work as real stained glass artists for the day.
Standing proud on the South Birmingham skyline, the old St Mary’s Church in Wythall was a key part of village life for over a century. But when cracks started to appear in the 1980s the building was declared unsafe and closed soon afterwards. For the last 26 years St Mary’s have met for Sunday worship in local schools, most recently at The Coppice on Shawhurst Lane in Hollywood. But all that is about to change as an ambitious and exciting joint building project will leave The Coppice with six new classrooms and a new hall, and St Mary’s with a brand new church.
The focal point of the new church will be a stained glass window at the front, and who better to consult for design ideas than local pupils on whose school site the church will be built? Last term every pupil at The Coppice contributed a design idea for the window, whilst Year 12 Woodrush students submitted concepts and sketches as part of their BTEC coursework. From this, judges chose winners from each class, the best of which have become part of the design brief for the artists who will be creating the finished window.
Stained glass is a rare and ancient craft, but this week in Hollywood it has acquired a new class of apprentices. Alun Adams and Valerie Harding are here to put on a special two day workshop, enabling competition winners to work with real glass and traditional techniques. As tutors of the only dedicated University course in stained glass they are used to working with aspiring young adults, but this week they’ve found a crop of younger but very talented volunteers.
Here pupils’ designs are being transferred to glass and in time will be fired in a kiln and assembled into a combined piece of art which St Mary’s intend to display in their new church. Vicar Rev. Rich Burley says:
“Working with pupils from The Coppice and Woodrush on ideas for our new stained glass window has been inspiring, and their talent and application this week has been exceptional. It’s been an honour to have a visit from Swansea School of Glass too, and we are eagerly awaiting the completion of their design ideas for the new window proper. Our hope for our new window is that it will not only be the centrepiece of our new church, but also a focal point for the community which will be owned and celebrated by all.”
St Mary’s expect to commission the new window in September and October, ready for the opening of the new church and school block by Easter 2014.
Press Release, July 2013