Speaker: Nicole Mezey
1 March 2016

The work of art is not just a symbol of creative genius but a historical object and the result of a laborious process of creation. The glory of Medieval stained glass is evidenced not only in majestic cathedrals such as York, Canterbury, Reims and Chartres, but also in smaller, just as fine churches and chapels. Even before the Middle Ages, Christian imagery exploited the beauty and mystery of glass. Technical developments meant that glass became less fragile and soon glass factories were set up throughout Europe.

From the 13th century, there were changes in architecture, including the development of the flying buttress. Now, windows were able to be larger, and complex images could be made even more powerful and moving. The emphasis of stained glass windows was primarily Christian. However, sometimes images highlighted political and dynastic concepts as well.

This lecture looks at the development of stained glass, its purpose, the process by which it was created and some of the extraordinary survivals. From vast cathedrals to tiny chapels, we concentrate on the great achievements of the Middle Ages but consider too the reasons for the decline in popularity of this once-preeminent art form and some of the projects in which it has been reconsidered and revived.

Nicole studied Art History at the Universities of Sussex and York and in Paris. She was Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University until 2009 working primarily with adults, managing and teaching on both the part-time degree and extra-mural programmes and conducting annual international study tours. She also established the Department of Art History, the first in the north of Ireland.

Nicole is currently a freelance lecturer working for organisations including the National Museum of Northern Ireland, Queen’s University, Arttalks: Artwalks and the National Trust and she is a guide lecturer for tours. Her publications focus on adult education and the arts.