Work

The Peel Cottage Windows

London

19821998

The second Peel Cottage Window (1998) is composed of a field of heraldic fleur-de-lys, recreated from the ornament of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, interrupted by irregular strips of parchment-coloured glass through which can be seen the brick and trees of the street behind. The window developed out of Brian’s designs for the Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit (Heiliggeistkirche) Heidelberg, commissioned in 1997 but unexecuted.

"I designed this window as a collage that was provoked by the idea of musical sampling. Years ago, Malcolm McLaren explained to me what sampling was and how it worked. I appropriated that idea and quite simply ‘lifted’ the fleur-de-lys ornament from Saint Chapelle. The only thing that tells you that it is not original but is in fact a Modern work is the way that it is floated on a parchment field of colour, a shameless appropriation and collage. There is one little moment where I fake a medieval crack very consciously, with spider leads holding it together. The fleur-de-lys remains one of the most enigmatic and majestic graphic ciphers that I know. I have incorporated the fleur-de-lys into many of my projects over many decades – it’s always cropping up, and I’m always loving it." – Brian, 2020

The first Peel Cottage Window (1982), a predominately green, reticular work: "This was the first of the three works I’ve designed for the same window in my home studio/living room. It comes from a particular period in my work, when I was very preoccupied with the grid and ways of undermining it. Grids have always been a source of pleasure for me, probably because they deliver a reliable basis for art to challenge the idea of the constant. If you begin with order, disruption or even chaos will inevitably follow. At the time, I was listening to Ligeti, plus Brian Eno and Kraftwerk, both of whom I worked with. I was appropriating the musical ideas of repetitive structural rhythms being punctuated by sounds that leap free from a matrix. I listened to this kind of music while I was working: Norman Foster and I had many stimulating conversations on the implications of this idea to architecture. Now this window is on loan to The Stained Glass Museum, in Ely Cathedral, and I have the fleur-de-lys window in its place." – Brian, 2019