Shirazeh Houshiary
East Window
St Martin-in-the-Fields
London, 2008
Etched mouth blown clear glass and shot peened stainless steel frame
Photograph by James Morris

James Gibbs’ great church was completed in 1726 and has recently undergone complete renovation and restoration. The original vision of Gibbs was to have no stained glass and that all glazing was made up of simple mouth blown glass. Its most important aspect is the East elevation and the new East window is a monochromatic design celebrating light. It is an abstract design, but has strong religious, spiritual and architectural resonances.

The window is held within a short peened stainless steel framework comprising of hand made glass panels etched on both sides with a subtle feathery pattern based on fragments of Houshiary paintings. The warp and weft design of the structure and the twist at its centre creates a vertical energy echoing the agony of the cross. The central ellipse is an icon of contemplation and echoes the original architectural and decorative elements within the church.

Each evening the ellipse is subtly lit and increases with the fading light to create a strong visual effect that can be seen from both inside and outside.