Stained glass in Canterbury, New Zealand, 1860 to 1988 (1992)
AuthorsCiaran, Fionashow all
The region of Canterbury, New Zealand, contains a large collection of nineteenth and twentieth-century stained glass windows. Founded by British emigrants in 1850 as a Church of England settlement, Canterbury retained close links with Britain well into the twentieth century and this is reflected in the importation of stained glass windows. While the majority of windows are found in Anglican churches and include accomplished works by Victorian studios, other denominations also commissioned stained glass. There is a smaller but significant sample of works by Australian, French, German and Irish studios. Twentieth-century windows include major works by Arts and Craft Movement artists. Work by New Zealand studios increases from the beginning of the twentieth century, and after 1973, importation ceases. Although stained glass is a monumental, public art form of immense visual appeal, this collection has, until now, remained unrecognised and undocumented. This thesis presents a comprehensive catalogue of all ecclesiastical and selected secular stained glass windows in Canterbury. Divided into two main groups, reflecting the author's assessment of the significance of individual windows, the catalogue forms the basis of an analysis of the collection as a whole. Critical attitudes towards stained glass, the status of the medium, patterns of installation, the roles played by key people in the selection of commissions, questions of patronage, commemoration, iconography and vandalism are discussed. Appendixes provide statistical data on the collection as well as biographical and historical information on the studios, designers and executants represented. New information is presented about British artists, some of whom have been virtually unexamined by historians. It is argued that stained glass in Canterbury not only comprises the most important regional collection of windows in New Zealand, but also that its imported twentieth century works rival those of Australia's. The exportation of nineteenth and twentieth century stained glass from Britain is represented in microcosm in Canterbury, thus necessitating a reappraisal of the history of British stained glass. Finally, the development of local studios represents a significant but neglected aspect of artistic life in New Zealand.