Brian Clarke was born in Oldham, Lancashire, in 1953. A lifelong exponent of the integration of art and architecture, and celebrated for his work on canvas, in sculpture, ceramics, mosaic, tapestry, and his radical innovation in stained glass, Clarke is a major figure in the contemporary art of the last four decades. Practising in secular and sacred spaces, his architectural collaborations include work with Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Arata Isozaki, Oscar Niemeyer, I. M. Pei, Future Systems and other leading figures of modern and contemporary architecture, creating stained glass designs and art installations for hundreds of projects worldwide.
His practice in architectural and autonomous stained glass, often on a monumental scale, has led to several innovations and inventions in the fabrication of the medium and, through the production of leadless stained glass and the creation of sculptural stained glass works made primarily of lead, he has stretched the boundaries of what the medium can do and express.
"There is a world that can only be seen through stained glass. It's like no other world. Mostly, people think of stained glass as being at its zenith in the Middle Ages. That may be true but I think that there might be a way of surpassing the medievals at their own game. The medievals had the advantage of Gothic architecture to respond to and be framed by – that is not the case today. I want to surpass the Middle Ages, not equal them. Surpass them with the new and irresistible: volumetric, spatial colour."
Major works include the apex of the Pyramid of Peace in Kazakhstan; the stained glass roof of Victoria Quarter, Leeds, Europe's largest stained glass work; the Hôtel du département des Bouches-du-Rhône, Marseilles; the Royal Mosque of King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh; the 13th century Cistercian Abbaye de la Fille-Dieu, Switzerland; the lobby of the Al-Faisaliah Centre, Saudi Arabia's first skyscraper, in Riyadh - formerly the largest stained glass work in the world; the interior and facade of Pfizer World Headquarters, New York; AGM HQ in Kassel, Germany; Apax & Partners HQ, London; the Stamford Cone, Connecticut; and NorteShopping, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Stage sets and designs for theatre include designs for two productions of Wayne Eagling's Rudolf Nureyev-tribute 'The Ruins of Time, with the Dutch National Ballet; Paul McCartney's World Tour (1989-90) and New World Tour (1993); and a production of the Robert Ward Opera 'The Crucible', directed by Hugh Hudson.
Clarke is a visiting Professor of Architectural Art at University College London; former Chairman of the Architecture Foundation, Londo; an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts; Hon. Doctor of Law, University of Huddersfield; former member of the design review committee for the Commission of Architecture & Built Environment; Trustee & Council member of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust; Sole Executor of The Estate of Francis Bacon; Chairman of the Zaha Hadid Foundation.