The news that the national Stained Glass Museum is to stage a lecture in October (2018) about the works of Margaret Rope is another milestone in the slow rediscovery of her achievements.
Despite producing stained-glass works of the highest quality & art across three decades in the first half of the twentieth century, Margaret Rope has been virtually ignored by art-history since (see ‘Neglected’).
(Although her work has featured, in the last forty years, in two exhibitions, sadly neither of the museums that showed her work were central.)
This lecture is part of the process to right that wrong.
The person selected to give the lecture could hardly better chosen. Arthur Rope is a cousin of Margaret Rope and grew up hearing stories about her, her strange life, and the band of female artists that surrounded her in her early years.
His interest piqued, he has spent years researching her life and works, and is now the definitive expert. His website is the go-to place for Marga facts and details. He has visited virtually all the churches in the UK holding Margaret Rope’s works – and photographed them.
Thanks to him, previously undiscovered works have been identified and added to the canon.
His efforts majorly contributed to the success of the Margaret Rope Exhibition in Shrewsbury (the only time such a large range of her works have been shown); and he has been the driving force behind the recent establishment of a custom-built space for the Margaret Rope archive.
He has published a number of books on both Margaret Rope and her cousin, the stained-glass M.E. Aldrich Rope (who acted on occasion as Margaret’s collaborator). Arthur is something of an expert on the latter’s work too.
An integral part of the lecture will be the showing of many of Marga’s works – not just church windows, but also pieces from private collections. The display-screen in the room will be a dazzle of colour!
Mr Rope will be endeavouring to show not just Marga’s mastery of colour and line but also how she fitted into the ‘Later’ Arts & Crafts tradition.
Arthur is a stained-glass artist himself, and so is well-equipped to explain the unique way in which A&C artists approached glass-working and why it was so different from what had come before – or later.
Inevitably, there will be a discussion of Margaret’s life. Little is known of the details of it, but there has been intense research by enthusiasts over the last ten years, and new facts are coming to light all the time. Some of those will be outlined.
The new research helps a little to explain why she did religious subjects almost exclusively, and how a deep understanding of religious symbology informed her work.
For those travelling to the lecture, you could consider spending the day in the town. The lecture takes place in the afternoon (2pm), so you could build your visit around that.
The Museum itself (see pic below) is housed in the triforium of Ely Cathedral and displays around one hundred works of glass, from across the centuries, in the most up to date conditions. (Although no works by Marga are there, there are some small roundels by her cousin M.E. Aldrich Rope).
Ely Cathedral itself is a huge joy (literally!) for any church-crawler, and there is a perfect cup of tea to be had in the tea-rooms that lie across the cathedral green.
The town-trail is small enough and quaint enough to complete in two hours.
The lecture takes place on Wednesday October 10th 2018 at 2pm.
Tickets are £9 (discounted for Museum Friends) and are available in advance – see https://stainedglassmuseum.com/lectures.html
One thought…. before attending the lecture you may want to familiarise yourself with Margaret Rope’s artworks. Arthur’s own photo-book of her works is available on mail-order for £10, though, in this online age, you can now download a digital version if you prefer that.
Copies will also be available for sale at the lecture.