Work

Lavers and Barraud Building, Covent Garden

22 Endell Street, Covent Garden

1981

Located on the corner of Endell Street and Betterton Street in London's Covent Garden, the Grade II-listed mid-19th century polychrome brick building was the former location of the Lavers and Barraud stained glass studio; commissioned by the Crafts Council, the gable window Brian made fills what was the studio's viewing window.

"In place of biblical scenes in his 'medallions' Clarke reverses the historical precedent by making the ten rectangular 'medallions' the negative passages in his design. Against a deep blue background and set off by ruby borders (a colour scheme which, in ironically quoting one of their conventions, makes humorous reference to the building's Victorian occupants), the only incidents the 'medallions' frame are the pale blue streaks inherent in the texture of their white opalescent glass. As he has often stated, colour and line can be as eloquent as the human figure." – Martin Harrison in the essay Eloquence from Intractability from the monograph Brian Clarke: Architectural Artist.

"The brief was to re-glaze the tripartite upper floor window in a polychrome Ruskinian Gothic building in Covent Garden, erected in 1860 as the workshop on the glass-painters, Lavers & Barraud. The building was refurbished as offices, and Clarke imagined the former studio window as perhaps having once displayed a three-light window intended for a church; he reasoned that Lavers & Barraud would probably have broken down such a design into small subject panels set on a ground of densely saturated colour in foliate patterns. While respecting the architectonic demands of the given context, Clarke, with considerable trans-historical acumen for someone still in his twenties, deconstrcuted the narrative and figural associations of the notional High Victorian 'original', stripped the background of ornament, and substituted white opalescent glass, subtly streaked with pale blue, for its ten notional scriptural episodes. Thus, in a Postmodern, teleological master-stroke, each 'medallion' was transmuted unto a kind of palimpseset, equivalent to the white-washed tables on which medieval glaziers drewout their designs." – Martin Harrison writing in The Journal of Stained Glass, 2005.