“Thomas Denny is a stained-glass artist and painter, educated at Edinburgh College of Art in the 1970’s. In the 1980‘s and 1990‘s he exhibited his paintings in London and New York. Latterly, Denny has concentrated on stained-glass and has now made some fifty windows for churches and cathedrals, almost entirely in England but with a few projects in Germany and Scotland. Recent commissions include a pair of windows at Hereford Cathedral and, installed in August 2010, a huge window for Durham Cathedral. Other commissions are found in extraordinary buildings all over the country including Gloucester Cathedral, Tewkesbury Abbey and Malvern Priory. The new edition of Pevsner’s ‘Gloucestershire’ refers to Denny’s windows at St Christopher’s, Cheltenham, as ‘quite astonishing’. Mary Miers, in Country Life (July 2003) speaks of ‘a radiance that defies beating rain and fading light’, and windows that are ‘many layered, rich in meaning and not immediately fully comprehensible.’ Ann Wroe, writing in The Tablet (2006) and ‘Intelligent Life’ (2010) finds ‘hues and images that both feed the soul and take the breath away….his glass lives and moves like no one else’s.” – From an exhibition at The Art Stable, Dorset
Most of my windows are in churches, and their themes are scriptural. Several new projects, however, have also been celebrations or commemorations of remarkable people, incorporating their relationship with a particular place and landscape. At Gloucester Cathedral is the Ivor Gurney glass; this composer and poet, a kind of patron saint of mental illness, and speaker of beauty and anguish, had an intense connection with Gloucestershire, the land of his birth. Adjacent to the Gurney glass is now a Gerald Finzi window, an attempt to make a visual equivalent of the character and themes of his music. At Leicester Cathedral is a pair of windows installed with the re-interment of King Richard III. Here, stories that emerge from an individual life are intended to become stories for all of us: loss, courage, redemption.
In 2017, I made the Reconciliation Window for St John’s R C Church, Tralee, County Kerry. This explores passages from Scripture about healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. The window has additional layers of meaning in that my own family were, for hundreds of years, protestant landowners in this place, making the glass, perhaps, a modest local expression of the Good Friday agreement.
All of my windows are made with materials and techniques largely the same as those used in 14th century stained glass, with the addition of much acid etching of flashed glass, a technique that developed in the 19th century. This helps, I believe, to incorporate them in their settings; treatment of imagery can be very different, but colour, texture and the intransigence of lead and glass all make connections with what is already there, whether it is other stained glass, or the forms and surfaces of surrounding architecture and artifacts. Stained glass must be interesting and beautiful in its own right, but it must always acknowledge its context.