This exhibition explores the modern stained glass designs of John Piper.
The River & Rowing Museum reopened with a remarkable display in its John Piper Gallery, shining a spotlight on Piper’s lifelong passion for stained glass and his exploration of this medium, influenced by the medieval windows he encountered from childhood.
The centrepiece of the display has been recently conserved and rarely seen in public before. Piper’s ‘cartoon’ or design for the stunning stained glass window, which he was invited to create (c. 1985 – 1986) for All Saints Church, Farnborough, West Berkshire, is in memory of his close friend and collaborator John Betjeman. Piper and Betjeman (1906-1984), the Poet Laureate, writer and broadcaster, shared a close friendship, a love of the British landscape, and a love of churches, embarking on many a ‘church crawl’ together. This was the last of the incredible stained glass windows Piper designed before he died in 1992 and is still the most important feature of this little parish church.
It was created in Piper's large barn studio at Fawley Bottom near Henley on Thames where he worked on his large-scale designs, from stained glass windows to theatre designs. The cartoon then hung in Piper’s home there for many years before being loaned by the Piper family to the River & Rowing Museum in late 2018. This impressive, vibrant and intricate cartoon gives us a rare glimpse into Piper's creative process.