Rediscovered, restored and reinvented – a 13th century chapel is now a place of contemplation and contemporary art. This is the story of Lady chapel at St. Mary’s in Greifswald. For decades used as a storage room, the chapel’s beauty was rediscovered during the restauration of the church. The congregation decided to restore the space and to secure the valuable medieval wall paintings. A CfA was published for the design of the door and windows, which was won by British artist Peter Sutton. He received the challenging task to harmonize the existing historic art with his own contemporary approach, creating an atmosphere where visitors would feel welcome. For his design, Peter chose largely to refrain from figurative and liturgical representations. It was his aim to use color and form in relation to space, in a way that would inspire contemplation and (divine) connection. On a technical level, Peter used various materials and collaborated with different fabricators despite the additional constraints of a global pandemic: The team at Derix Glasstudios assisted with the fabrication of the windows, a father-son duo from Greifswald manufactured the impressive oak door, and Peter’s sister painted and gilded the door, and carved the handles, key and plates, which were cast in bronze.
Upon entering the Lady chapel, Peter wanted visitors to experience feelings of calm, wonder and elevation. It was his goal to create a welcoming and intimate atmosphere within the ancient building. In his design concept, he placed specific emphasis on the physical experience of different materials and the change of shapes and colors. Thereby, he considered each one of the commissioned works in relation to one another as well as to light and movement. It was his aim to create connections as well as contrasts between the glass and the other materials, for example, transmitted color through glass and reflected light through paint, felt, wood, bronze and gold. Peter strove to find the right shapes and material for each part of the project in relation to the space and the other objects. He wanted there to be a dialogue between door, windows and floor which would encompass, entice and inspire the visitor.
Derix produced all the glass works for the St Marien Kappelle. I couldn’t even go there during production because of covid! So when Marko arrived in Greifswald with the glass I saw it for the first time! When everything was up and in, I saw the work as my own – that Derix had translated my designs seamlessly, and also with a boldness and freedom; so they rightly had the ownership of production. So for the first time I experience that, “the artist not being there” can be a good and liberating thing! Thank you Derix and thank you Marko for the perfect installation – with my assistance!
Peter Sutton, 24.9.2021
You can find more about Peter Sutton here: http://www.petersutton.no/