The Stourbridge Zodiac Window and the Pebble Mosaic
Stourbridge Zodiac Window
A talk given by Johannes Steuck on the occasion of the windows installation.
Good Evening--Just afew words to mark the grand installation of these windows. They represent the Cosmos and our relationship to it as human beings. IT is both an all encompassing theme as well as an actual realization of all the various skills and techniques that I have developed over the years.
Let us start with the fourfold central section. This is composed of triple laminated glass—three layers of glass on top of each other .The bottom has been painted and fired, the coloured glass is bonded onto a very thin layer of clear glass.Thus they combine a traditional technique with a modern mosaic technique. The best of both worlds is achieved --the evocative textural splendour of the old glass and the free, less encumbered quality of modern glass.
Location: Ruskin Glass Centre
Wollaston Road, Amblecote, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 4HF
The Four Creatures:
Lion, Bull, Eagle Man.
These beings appear in the book of Daniel,in the book of Revelation of St. John and also combined moulded together in the form of the Sphinx.
Perhaps less obscurely they appear as the symbolic animals of the four Evangelists; Matthew Bull, Mark lion, Luke Angel/Man and eagle John. on one level they can be seen as creator forces—Archetypes raying in from the cosmos—but in the Sphinx form they indicate both what we are and what we are not. We are creatures of the earth (our Animal parts) and we are creatures of heaven. The Sphinx challenges us to become ourselves.
Rudolf Steiner indicates that the fourfold gospels are not simply four different narrative versions of the truth, but different states or levels of initiation. The four creatures correspond to the three stages of initiation,not definitively but moving into each other,the three are contained in the four.Bull and Lion—Imagination moving towards Inspiration,Lion and Man—Inspiration moving towards Intuition and Man and Eagle culminating in Intuition.
The creatures are surrounded by symbols of the constellations and twelve highly polished quartz es. The use of semi-precious stones incorporated into glass is something I have been working with for a long time.As a child I wanted to be a jeweller but my big peasant hands were more suited for stained glass.Using semi-precious stones with stained glass is an extension of jewellery.I like the idea of combining natural stone with glass (both quartz and glass are silica).
When glass was first discovered and laboriously produced it was very highly prized. The Egyptians successfully combined jewels and glass paste. Nowadays glass has become common and cheap ,we take it very much for granted.yet perhaps it is possible to reestablish a connection between the precious and the everyday.Glass is the man-made jewel a symbol of what we can become.
My other inspiration for working in this way is karlstein. A castle in the Check republic in which some of the interior walls are set with semi-precious stones. Rudolf Steiner calls Charles the 4th its one time builder, Europe’s last initiate king.Semi-precious stones and jewels are not only precious because they are expensive but also because they remind us of something else. They evoke the Spiritual Realm,indeed are channels through which the Spiritual World can be contemplated. In Celtic times quartz Chrystal was seen as the Sun Stone and dedicated to its light.It is therefore appropriate that these highly hand polished stones should represent the distant ‘Suns of the Constellations.
The fan light
The fan light incorporates the theme of the four elements;Earth,Water,Air and Fire.I have used the more fluid technique of lamination for these panels.The elements form a loose chalice shape with the fire being presented in the top centre. These four elements also symbolize the sheaves of the human being. Earth is the physical body, Water is the etheric body,Air the astral body and Fire the ego. The ‘Fire’ consists of chunks of slab glass roughly faceted and held in place by lead which has been poured around it.
The Door Panels
The Door Panels contain the most precious elements, Tourmaline’s and shards of glass from the windows of the first Goethanum. Together they symbolize the miracle of spirit contained within matter. Tourmaline’s seem almost alive in there colour vitality, the fragments from the first Goetheanum can remind us of that building which was the most complete embodiment of a ‘Spiritual Temple’ on earth in modern times.
Johannes Steuck © 2014