The Dayspring - detail (St Matthews Bayswater)
WILLIAM CLARKE MEMORIAL – “THE DAYSPRING”
ARTIST: ROGER WAGNER
MAKER: OLIVER BUDD
THE COMMISSION – THE ARTISTS’ PERSPECTIVE:
“The sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4 .2)
“Through the tender mercy of our god…. The dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in the darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1 78-9)
Both these verses (along with the description in Revelation of “an angel standing in the sun”) were in my mind as I worked on the design for this mosaic.
Twenty years ago I illustrated psalm 19, which talks of the sun “coming forth as a bridegroom from his marriage tent” and rejoicing as a strong man to run his race. My starting point for that illustration was a drawing of William Blake’s that he called “glad day”. Blake’s own inspiration seems to have been a renaissance drawing of a man standing in a circle, so to turn his drawing into an angel standing in the sun seemed like a natural translation. The opportunity to translate this image into mosaic was though like a door opening in the sky.
When Oliver Budd and I worked together on our unrealised mosaic for Westminster Cathedral we had devised a way of using the full orchestral range of the gold mosaic made by the Venetian firm of Angelo Orsoni to represent the idea of glory. For this mosaic they created a special blue for us (known sadly not as Budd/Wagner blue but f2960-1) That blue with the golds, together with some very rare Mexican gold mosaic which Oliver had acquired (and were perfect for the angel’s wings), created an effect beyond anything that either of us had imagined.
Roger Wagner – July 2021
THE COMMISSION – A CRAFTSMANS’ PERSPECTIVE:
Back in 2009 I was compelled to respond to an article in the Guardian by Germaine Greer concerning the new St Francis and St Anthony mosaics for Westminster cathedral.
This was a commission that Roger Wagner and I had been invited to tender for, but unfortunately we did not procure.
Ms. Greer was not overwhelmed by the chosen work and I felt it apposite to agree but only as a response to the design, not the mosaic maker.
Roger and I had spent a few very agreeable days in my studio in Bodiam, East Sussex, working on a rather lovely and tender St Francis icon sampler of Roger’s design that seemed to touchingly render the nature of the man in his humility and gentleness.
This small icon was made using my favoured material for portrait work, flesh tones from Angelo Orsoni’s Venice furnace and the firms amazing range of gold tesserae.
This little icon along with a copy of Our Lady of Vladimir was given to the Bartlett family who would have been our Patrons for the Westminster commission had our designs been accepted.
They now sit each side of the high altar of St Mary’s C of E church in Nettlestead, near Maidstone in Kent.
With our understanding of each others modus operandi now in place Roger and I were fully equipped to work on the 2018 commission for a memorial mosaic for St Matthew’s church in Bayswater, London.
William Clarke was late of the Courtauld Institute of Art and churchwarden at St Matthews 2003 – 2007. The mosaic was commissioned by his wife Elizabeth. Rogers agent Anthony Mould oversaw the works design, construction and installation brilliantly and all went according to plan.
Our creative partnership was a very enjoyable meeting of minds and skills. Rogers stunning artistry and a staggering palette of vivid “Lapis” blues and that great range of golds and my years of mosaic knowledge especially with Smalti and portraiture to coalesce in the creation of the work now installed in St Matthews.
Even with my years of experience working with the finest materials I was still staggered by the impact of the panel within its chosen space. It is as if it has opened another window into the church building.
Oliver Budd – July 2021