One of the ‘legacy’ projects planned following the Margaret Rope Exhibition in Shrewsbury in 2016 was a tribute window – a piece of modern stained glass which would stand as a panegyric to Marga’s work for this generation and the future.
And at last the project has come to fruition.
Visitors to Shrewsbury Museum can now see the new artwork in all its glory, just off the museum’s medieval gallery. It overlooks the courtyard and pulls in all the filtered light from there.
And it is … quite lovely.
The maker of the piece, Nathalie Hildegard Liege, has been working in stained glass for over twenty years.
Based as she is in the town of Shrewsbury, it was perhaps inevitable that she would come to know and admire the work of Margaret Rope; some of Margaret’s finest works are in the town’s cathedral.
Nathalie was particularly struck by one fundamental in Margaret’s work: “Marga must have had a vibrant relationship with Nature. People are the central elements in her work, but around her figures are always birds, flowers, landscapes, many of them accurately depicted. She could not do without Nature.”
Inspired by the 2016 exhibition, Nathalie began the project with the backing of Shrewsbury Museum, funding from supporters, and the Arts Council.
Over the months, the project transmuted into a desire to merge themes – of Margaret Rope & Nature; of Shrewsbury town’s particular relationship to the River Severn and its own earthscape; the insights of Charles Darwin, who was born in the town, and whose interest in geology is highlighted in a special collection in the museum; and Nathalie’s own fears about the way the environment is being treated today. And thus, the work is titled the ‘Marga & Collections Window‘.
All of the ideas are incorporated into the satisfying whole that is the new work, now installed and ready for view.
It really is a matter of congratulations all round.
Bringing significant new artworks to the world is an expensive and complicated business, and even more so when they need to be permanently installed on a public site.
So Shrewsbury Museum should be applauded for supporting a venture to produce the first important large new artwork to the town for some years.
And Nathalie is to be applauded for her vision and determination to see it through.
Interestingly, Nathalie’s project has not just been about the window, though that was always its centre.
A documentary film, marking the progress of the project and reflecting on it, was also completed and is due to have public screenings some time in the future. It was made by KAE Films.
For those who don’t mind a small screen, it is also available online.
A supporting booklet, about the project and going into more depth about the meanings and symbols in the work, is also available – on sale at Shrewsbury Museum Shop, as well as through Nathalie’s studio ‘Couleur Live’.
Though in her lifetime Marga shrank from the spotlight, nevertheless one hopes she would have been pleased by this long-overdue public tribute to her in her hometown…
… and in stained glass, her own medium, too!
If you wish to comment on this article, please write something in the comments box at the bottom of this page.
_ _ _ _
See related article: Blue Plaque for Margaret Rope in Shrewsbury
Nathalie Hildegarde Liege – biography:
Nathalie works as an architectural glass designer and fine artist based in Shrewsbury. She established her ‘Couleurlive Studio’ between 1998 and 2000, having been awarded The Journeyman’s Award by the Worshipful Company of Glaziers & Painters of Glass.
Nathalie has completed commissions for public, domestic and sacred buildings, including stained glass windows for the X-Ray Department at the Orthopaedic Hospital, Gobowen.
She is a member of the BSMGP