About John

John Corley Grinding pigmentMy introduction to the glory of stained glass began whilst visiting Canterbury Cathedral during my time at Canterbury College of Art, which was situated in view of this magnificent Gothic building. Entering the huge vaulted Nave and up into the Choir I was immediately overwhelmed by strength of colour of the windows; powerful flowing imagery and the scale of the series of figures depicting the genealogy of Christ beginning with the finest of all “Adam delving” (1170). This series of windows remain some of the finest examples of western medieval art – from that time I was hooked!

My creative development at Art School (Northampton School of Art and Canterbury College of Art) began through influences of teachers who introduced me particularly to European Art from the pre-Renaissance e.g. frescoes of Giotto and Cimabue. At that time I discovered one of the most moving self-portraits by Rembrandt on an early visit to the National Gallery. Art School also showed me American Abstract Expressionism – Rothko, Pollock, de Kooning; Post-Impressionism (Cezanne). Of course I could not leave out Picasso, Matisse and Chagall who were constants throughout the century, they have all contributed to my own creativity.

Following graduation (Fine Art) I had the opportunity to join the Cathedral Studios and work on these great windows. I spent almost four years studying design; glass painting; the art and craft of this unique visual medium as well as the conservation of these 800-year-old masterpieces.

An early memory is viewing the high level windows “up close” on scaffolding assisting Professor Madeline Caviness as she carried out her research on the stained glass windows for the CVMA volume on “The Windows of Christ Church, Canterbury” later published (1981). This was a huge learning experience, an insight into the quality of these great works and influential in my creative development at that time. The viewing of the glass was, of course, in the context of its part in the fabric of the building. The light source for this Great Church but also its texture, the impurities of blown glass, its kiln fired painted surface and the raw unpainted Caen stone – such harmony!

As part of my training I was given the opportunity by Frederick Cole FMGP, designer and director of the Cathedral Studios, to take part in an exchange scheme with York Minster. I attended a practical workshop course with the York Glaziers Trust assisting with work being carried out on the famous Rose Window and other sites in the north of England.

After a few years at the Cathedral Studio a new phase opened up, I established my own studio in a rural location in Kent and set about a life dedicated to carrying out my own new commissions and conservation. After a short time it became necessary to expand premises, employ more staff and improve facilities and so our present much larger studio was purchased and equipped.

The studio over the years has developed in scale and complexity including the current team of skilled craftsmen and women carrying out all aspects of studio and site work. I have taught and encouraged an ethos of care in carrying out our commissions, either new work or conservation of glass from all periods to the highest standard as set out by the CVMA guidelines.
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In 2000 I was assessed and awarded the Accreditation of Conservator – Restorer (PACR), Member of the United Kingdom Institute for Conservation (ICON). For many years I have been a member of the British Society of Master Glass Painters (BSMGP). The studio is registered with the Conservation Register.