Welcome to the summer issue of Vidimus. As we go to press, listeners of the BBC’s long-running radio drama The Archers ‘a contemporary drama in a rural setting’ will be gripped by the current stained-glass storyline. As actress June Spencer, who has played character Peggy Woolley since the show’s first episode on 1 January 1951, retires at the age of 103, Peggy’s decision to commission a stained-glass window for the parish church causes consternation among members of her family. Who but Vidimus readers could have guessed that stained glass could arouse such passions! As the window will celebrate the birth of fictional twins Nova and Seren (meaning ‘star’ in Welsh), the revelation of its subject matter, not to mention the identity of its designer, and what the Borsetshire Diocesan Advisory Committee will make of it all, is bound to keep Archers’ fans engrossed for weeks to come!
On a more serious note, the summer has always traditionally been the ‘conference season’ and after two years’ of pandemic disruption, we have at long last been able to return to this welcome pattern of scholarly exchange combined with collegial good fellowship! From 4–9 July, the international Corpus Vitrearum was once again able to meet in person, hosted by the Catalan national committee in Barcelona, Cerdanyola del Vallès and Girona. This year, for the first time since 2004, the colloquium and forum came together, and the fruitful exchanges that ensued underlined the value of bringing the two stands of the community back into alignment, in a celebration of what international President Professor Tim Ayers described in his opening address as ‘thinking and making’. Dr Anya Heilpern and Ali Wysopal report on the meetings in this month’s Reviews section.
Inevitably, of course, the joy of meeting old friends and colleagues was tinged with sadness as we remembered those no longer with us, a distressingly long list commemorated at this year’s plenary meeting. We are glad to share a tribute to one of them, founder of the Canadian Corpus and former international Vice-President Professor Roland Sanfaçon. Only a few days before our departure for Barcelona, we learned of the death of our own long-serving national committee member Michael Archer, former keeper of glass and ceramics at the Victoria and Albert Museum. We hope to include a fitting tribute to Michael in a future issue.
Collaborations and exchanges of another sort are described in our two features. Virginia Raguin and Hadley Arnold outline the newly-recognised significance of glass in a Rhode Island church by American pioneer Henry E. Sharp, while J.D. Hodder describes his use of Vidimus and the Corpus Vitrearum’s online resources in his pursuit of the truth behind a remarkable family treasure, now a highly valued additional to the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Michael Cothren takes us to another American museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, hosting a temporary exhibition of eighteen of the finest treasures from the famous Pitcairn collection, made available while the Glencairn Museum in Bryn Athyn undergoes redevelopment.
Finally we are grateful to Oksana Kondratyeva for alerting us to an error in our last issue. The stained glass in the Chernobyl exclusion area illustrated in our piece about the threat to Ukrainian stained glass to news in issue 139 is of the 1986 glazing scheme in the city café in Prypyat, rather than in the nuclear power plant.
The deadline for material for our next issue is 1 November 2022. We look forward to hearing from you!
Professor Sarah Brown, Editor
Christopher Parkinson, Assistant Editor
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