Linköping Cathedral

Linköpings Domkyrka, Östergötland, Sweden


In 2005, Brian was approached to design two suites of stained glass windows for the 13th century cathedral, Linköpings Domkyrka, in Sweden: a pair of three-light windows, each situated above one of the cathedral's porch entrances, and an unrealised scheme of six windows for the Thomas Becket Chapel. The porch windows pair, realized in 2010, for the transept – a three-light window at the north porch of the transept, and another at the south. The two pairs of artworks together measure a total of 312 square feet. Fired into the glass of one of the south porch lancet windows is a silkscreen-printed photograph of a child receiving first Communion, and all three lancets incorporate photographs from Clarke's studies of Swedish oak leaves made between 2005 and 2008; an image of a pigeon, from the 2005 studies he made of birds in flight, is collaged into the design; in the window, this form is fired into the glass of the north window's lights. This particular photograph is a source image that Brian has returned to multiple times, sampling and reappropriating: it appears in the apex and diamond-shaped windows of Norman Foster's Pyramid of Peace in Kazakhstan, designed at the same time. The installation of the artworks into the cathedral was completed in September 2010. 

The windows in Linköping Cathedral were designed in the 1850s, when cast iron windows were installed. These were cast at Finspång's mill and have a great cultural-historical interest. The new stained glass windows therefore had to be adapted to the rhombic bar pattern, which meant that the artist could not work with completely free surfaces. The window on the north side (the window of the Spirit) has its diamond quarries penetrated by a dove flying against the sky and clouds. In the southern window (the Son’s window) nature, in the form of decorative oak leaves, breaks through the rhombic pattern and creates a dramatic change. But above all it is the strong colours that carry the artwork. It is a colouristic effect that reverts to the medieval stained glass windows that created a splendour of colour in cathedrals like Linköping in the Middle Ages, whose windows were destroyed by fires during the 16th century. The new stained glass windows give a clue as to what was lost, while being a unique Modernist work of art from Sweden for our own time.” – Gunnar Lindkvist, former head of Östergötland Museum.

At Linköping, when the light comes through those cast iron diamonds found in the fenestration throughout the cathedral, it throws a really appealing pattern onto the stonework, a bit like the pattern made when light reflects off a calm lake with just a little bit of top breeze on it – a flat, even ripple everywhere; a flicker like you used to get in old films. The warmth and democratic, calm flicker of light coming through. And I didn't want to disturb that, so it was also very straightforward for me to deal with: if I could keep the same pattern of flicker in my work, it would be even more coherent with the rest of the building. If you believe, as I do, that the Gothic cathedral is one of the most significant Western cultural achievements, you can't just gesture to that idea: you've got to respond. In contextual terms, if you bow to the prevailing architecture it is possible to maintain the integrity of your work and respect for the building. You can have genuflection without sycophancy: without deferring to the surroundings through historical pastiche you can kneel to them.” – Brian Clarke in conversation, 2020.

"Söndag 5 september 2010 invigdes nya glasmålningar på sex av fönstren i Domkyrkan. De färgsprakande glasmålningarna är gjorda av Brian Clarke, en av världens ledande konstnärer inom glasmålningar i arkitektur. Glasmålningarna pryder fönstren på kyrkans norra och södra sida, tre på varje sida. Brian Clarke är hemmahörande i London och har varit professor i konst och arkitektur vid University College London. Glasmålningarna bekostas av Bernhard Risbergs donationsfond för Domkyrkans förgyllande. När Linköpings domkyrka idag får ta emot nya glasmålningar i de sex medeltida fönstren är det ett stort och viktigt bidrag till det arv av konsttradition som det tjugoförsta århundradet lämnar efter sig i vår katedral." – Svenska kyrkan, 'Glasmålningar i tvärskeppet i Linköpings domkyrka'