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image icon 'Prophet Isaiah, Apostle St Peter, Sundar Singh', 1936

'Prophet Isaiah, Apostle St Peter, Sundar Singh', 1936
Art Gallery of South Australia

Description

This is a stained-glass window, designed in 1936 by Christian Waller (1894-1954) for a church in Bendigo, Victoria. The window is made up of three vertical panels, which measure 305 cm x 46 cm, 345 cm x 46 cm and 305 cm x 46 cm. Each panel features a single figure of a man, identified by a name that appears at the base of each design - from left to right these names read, 'Prophet Isaiah', 'Apostle S Peter' and 'Sundar Singh'. Each panel has a symbol or insignia positioned at the top of the design - Isaiah has a design that looks like flames, Peter has a cross and Singh a flower form resembling a lotus. Prominent dark lines of lead secure each unit of coloured glass.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • is a work of art by Christian Waller - Waller studied at the National Gallery School, Melbourne; she began designing stained-glass windows in around 1928, studied the art at Whall and Whall Ltd in London in 1929, and continued to design them into the early 1950s, producing over 65 windows during her lifetime; also a printmaker, book designer, illustrator and muralist, Waller is regarded as the most prominent and outstanding Australian stained-glass practitioner of the period
  • is a significant item of stained glass in the Art Deco style - Art Deco (a name derived from a shortened form of a 1925 Paris exhibition, 'Exposition Internationale des Arts D√©coratifs') was a decorative style that originated in the 1920s and 1930s; it was characterised by stylised geometric or representational forms and the innovative use of materials such as glass, concrete and plastic; its influence on all categories of Australian decorative arts (including stained glass) was widespread
  • is an outstanding example of Australian stained glass from the period between the World Wars - some of the finest and the most significant achievements in art made in Australia during the 1920s and 1930s were developed as site-specific (made as part of a building) works; stained-glass windows were among the most exceptional of these kinds of works
  • are site-specific artworks - these windows were originally made for the sanctuary of All Saints' Anglican Church, Bendigo, Victoria; All Saints was the first church to be built (in 1865) on the Bendigo gold fields; in the 1930s, a plan was drawn up for the rebuilding and transformation of the church in Art Deco style, but only a small part of this plan, including the three tall, narrow lancet (acutely pointed arch) windows by Waller, was completed; it was reported at the time that the windows 'are most dignified in form, rich and refined in colour and reflect great credit on the artist ... They have added much to the atmosphere of the chancel as a whole'
  • contains symbolism that reflects the artist's personal understanding of the universality of religious belief - the three figures represent the extensive time scale of the Christian church (from left to right) from Old Testament times (Prophet Isaiah), the time of Christ (Apostle Saint Peter), and the modern era (Sadhu Sundar Singh, a 20th-century Christian mystic who visited Australia in 1920)
  • expresses in its opalescent and jewel-like qualities Waller's love of stained glass as an art medium - Waller once described her feelings about working with the medium as 'Crimsons, golds and emeralds to gleam preciously from backgrounds of blues and violets, mauves, greys and whites to wind quietly among the richer ones, while heavy leads and iron bars offer a network of strength and stability ... What a wealth of material there is to choose from'
  • reflects a well-established tradition within Australian art - stained glass was produced in Australia from the 1850s; firms making stained glass flourished during the second half of the 19th century in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, and a number of these firms continued to make stained glass well into the 20th century.