As mentioned in a recent post on this blog, I had the privilege of restoring a large window that was damaged in many places by a recent storm. Unlike the invisible damage inflicted currently upon the world (by the insipid Coronavirus), this natural weather storm, whose hail stones plummeted from freezing dark blue clouds so intensely that late summer afternoon in February, much damage and destruction was caused to thousands of cars and homes as well as across the many panes of coloured glass in the magnificent window pictured below.
That late afternoon in February saw thousands of hailstones the size of tennis balls fall relentlessly for several hours from a very dark Heaven without fear or favour upon those things it chose to damage. It was as if the storm with all its rage, had made its own mind up as to who or what would fall prey to its icy anger. It's not often we city dwellers are reminded of nature's full power and so, when weather events like this happen, we are taken by storm so to speak, and all of our senses affected. That was certainly the case for me that day and brought home (so to speak again), on many occasions during the previous four months by seeing the many bush fires that raged across Australia: the resulting devastation was some of the worst Australians have ever known.
Melbourne was covered for days in a thick acrid smog that flew up from leaping flames and weaved its way from charcoal black mountains to the city's outer suburbs: on and on it went through open windows and doors into lounge rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms: on and on to office lined streets where the city carried on its business in rooms whose air conditioners fought and failed to keep the smog at bay: on and on to prey upon weakened asthmatic lungs whose alveoli gave in to its relentless smoky poison.
Nature at its freezing cold or searing hottest, always puts us back in our place (so to speak again!), whenever we get just a little too big for our boots. Apologies for that, I couldn't resist it.
And so to work I went
There are many windows of this kind - masterpieces in design, colour and scale - situated around Melbourne and its environs. They sit quietly in various buildings, secular and religious; enjoyed by thousands of people from all walks of life on a regular basis. I can not help thinking, that if this glass masterpiece were on display in any major gallery around the world, it would be considered as a seminal Abstract artwork. Circa 1955 it is well within the timeframe considered as part of the later Abstract Art period and yet, other than official architectural record, I can find no critique or review of this (in my opinion), seminal public Abstract artwork.
So much contemporary 'Abstraction', well without the time period considered as Post War Abstraction, is put on display in so many contemporary galleries by artists who are by and large (in my opinion), making poor copies of earlier masterpieces while many of the glass works like the one in the photographs below, go largely ignored. Perhaps it is time for a book or catalogue or something similar to stand as a central record - in Melbourne at least - for these forgotten masterpieces of 20th Century Art. A short history of the architects Bogle and Banfield can be read below the images.
The architects for the church were Bogle and Banfield. Bogle and Bogle and Banfield were responsible for some innovative and influential modernist buildings including the Total Carpark in Russell Street Melbourne (1964-65) which is acknowledged as a seminal piece of Brutalist architecture. Other major commissions in the City of Melbourne include the Mid City Cinemas, 194-200 Bourke Street (1977) and St Vincent's Private Hospital(1972). Although the practice was not particularly long lived - effectively finishing in the mid 1970s. The partnership of Bogle Banfield are not known as church architects and St James is their only known example.