Queen’s Medical Centre Chapel, Nottingham University
The University of Nottingham Medical School
1976 – 1979
From January 1979: “This week, Brian Clarke saw his specially commissioned stained glass window installed in the chapel of Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham. And BBC television’s Omnibus team were there to film the event as part of a documentary about the artist. Clarke started work on the inter-related man-size canvasses, which now surround the chapel, 3 years ago. The window features as the main exhibit in London’s Festival of Lights, and for the first time the chapel itself experienced something of a festival of light: for one of the effects achieved by the artist is a richly coloured rainbow pattern of light on the chapel’s floor. This is part of Clarke’s total design for the space, which will be used for meetings, discussions, drama and music, as well as worship and private meditation. The architects originally approached Brian with a request for a stained glass window, but his response was that he would design the whole chapel rather than create a window which would be ‘out of context’ with the rest. This is how University Hospital now has a room which is a work of art in itself – a truly unique hospital chapel.” – Evening Post.
The Nottingham University chapel’s stained glass window was designed and installed between 1976 and 1979. Brian painted 45 canvases which, together with the 200 sq ft window and other effects for the multi-faith centre, formed one of his first major commissions, and one of the largest public art commissions in the United Kingdom in the period. The BBC filmed the process of painting and the installation of the chapel window, Arcadian Landscape, for the 1979 Omnibus film Brian Clarke: The Story So Far. The window was a gift to the Queen’s Medical Centre from the hospital’s architects, and formed part of the exhibition Brian co-curated for the Festival of the City of London with war artist John Piper, and art historian Martin Harrison, GLASS/LIGHT.
“The Queen's Medical Centre Chapel will be unique because Clarke is selecting or designing all the furniture, fittings, vestments and silverware, as well as painting a series of 45 canvases that relate to each other and the stained glass window. He is delighted to be the person responsible for creating a passive environment in the University Hospital chapel – he radiated an ecstatic energy when explaining how the total scheme will form a national travelling exhibition to be shown in six major British galleries next year. Next year the stained glass will go on exhibition at the Royal Exchange, London. Architectural plans and sketches for the ecumenical centre have been earmarked to go on exhibition in New York, and the scheme is to be the subject of a television documentary programme and feature articles in three national magazines. Brian himself is also busy writing a book on ‘Art in Architecture’ and organising a symposium on the subject. With such publicity, University Hospital may well become famous for being the first hospital to use art in a functional as well as an aesthetic sense. Certainly Brian Clarke’s involvement with the project has made it known to artists and architects from Europe and the United States. And as a project to produce a sense of unity and harmony it has already gone far in accomplishing these aims in a human sense.” – Art in Architecture, 1979.
“The Queen’s Medical Centre’s unusual new chapel, thought to be one of the only chapels designed entirely by an artist rather than an architect, opens on Friday, and is the work of internationally-renowned artist Brian Clarke. The stained glass window design links with the huge canvasses surrounding the chapel walls which in turn reflect the design of the vestments and silverware.” – Evening Post, March 1980.