This window was made for the parish church of Whittlesford, Cambridgeshire, to celebrate 1000 years of village life. I was selected to design and make the window in October 2020, in the middle of the global Covid 19 pandemic. The theme chosen for the window was ‘Caring’, partly with a view to acknowledging the role played by people in the community and the caring professions during the pandemic but also to reflect church teaching.
The design is in the form of a diptych, with a contrasting left and right-hand side. The imagery in the left-hand window light and the largely blue colour palette aim to convey the idea of human suffering and adversity generally, whatever might be the cause; illness, depression, loneliness etc. The backdrop, as it were, is the village itself, vignettes of which are depicted with snow-covered buildings, trees and roads and figures. There is a section in the bottom left corner which speaks to the theme directly in showing a street scene in which a woman is delivering shopping to a senior citizen sitting in his sitting room. Higher up the window is a scene of a hospital bed with a nurse in personal protective equipment (PPE) holding a patient’s hand, and a doctor standing behind the bed. A river stretches away into the distant landscape and the first part of the inscription ‘When you go through deep waters, I will be with you’ points to the river as a symbol of a passage of suffering and death. Although the crashing Spitfire and the pilot baled out and descending under a parachute commemorate the fact that The Battle of Britain was fought in the skies above the village and the pilots buried in the graveyard but also speak of caring and self sacrifice.
The stormy skies and winter trees reiterate the symbolic content of the window’s message of suffering, but tempered by the warmth of human kindness expressed by the figures represented. This offers hope, which is indicated by the rainbow at the top and the green leaves.
The right-hand window light presents the contrasting imagery of spring and new life (thrush’s nest with eggs, baby in the pram and spring flowers, oak tree coming into leaf), people in community (crowd scene), and loved ones (hugging mother and daughter). The largely green colour palette is also livened by the festive bunting which reflects the colours of the rainbow at the top of the window and the one in the hood of the pram (which indicates the hope for the future embodied in the next generation.) The nature imagery, including the protected great crested newt and the bee orchid, both of which can be found in the village represent the idea of care for the environment.
Photos by Chris Parkinson
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