Shirazeh HOUSHIARY, New East Window (2008). St Martin-in-the-Fields Church (London)

Shirazeh HOUSHIARY, New East Window (2008). St Martin-in-the-Fields Church (London)
A new East Window designed by Shirazeh Houshiary, in collaboration with architect Pip Horne, has been installed above the altar at St Martin-in-the-Fields marking the final stage of the church's Renewal Project on 28 April 2008.

The new artwork will replace a window installed following World War II bomb damage. Artists shortlisted for this commission were briefed that proposals for the window should embody light, the aspiration that runs through the entire Renewal Project, and work in harmony with the clear glass of the other church windows. The design also had to challenge preconceptions and stimulate debate, as well as encouraging reflection and contemplation. This commission and the Art Commissions Programme are managed on behalf of St Martin-in-the-Fields by Modus Operandi Art Consultants.

Houshiary and Horne's monochromatic composition celebrates light and is an abstract design with strong religious, spiritual and architectural resonances. The "warp and weft" design of the shot peened stainless steel framework or "cames" evokes the agony of the Cross, whilst the central ellipse creates an icon of contemplation. It can be seen as the light at the centre of existence, the glory of God and of the light with which He illuminates our lives; or it can be seen as universal, transcending cultures. The ellipse echoes the architectural and decorative elements within the church such as the burst of gold declaring the glory of God in the sanctuary and the oval windows on either side.

The glass, held within the stainless steel framework, is made of mouth blown clear glass panels etched on both sides with a subtle, feathery pattern, derived from Houshiary's paintings. The panels graduate from a periphery of more transparent glass to a denser, whiter centre. The ellipse itself is lightly etched, and lit in such a way as to stand out as a source of light.

Shirazeh Houshiary and Pip Horne
Commission for St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, 2008
Etched mouth blown clear glass and shot peened stainless steel frame
Photo © Dave Morgan
Courtesy of the artists and Lisson Gallery