The work of Margaret Rope is one of a radically modern approach to colour and design alongside a burning desire to depict the ideals of her faith.
Where did she find this radical streak?
We shouldn’t forget that Margaret came from a very conservative section of society, and a very conservative part of England.
Her father was an important figure, a doctor and a church-warden at Shrewsbury’s ancient (and huge) parish church – so her family upbringing was well within establishment lines.
As for her chosen art, stained glass is almost uniquely prevalent in Shrewsbury, with its plethora of great churches – with the dominant influence in stained-glass making locally being the Victorian artist David Evans. He may have died in 1861, but his work was ubiquitous.
To change perception would have been hard.
And so, it is likely that this window, in the picture below, is what Shrewsbury society desired in its church stained-glass.
It is modern, yes, in depicting a ‘Tommy’, but – to me – it is slavishly following Victorian design, and is just plain dull.
Yet… only two hundred yards away, at the Cathedral, and for a decade already, the youthful Margaret Rope had been producing work that is dazzling in its radicalism.
Where did she get the courage? And how did she get the support?