Blog Birthday, and a Harry Clarke window!

Today is¬†my first blog birthday! ūüėÄ

It’s hard to believe it has been a whole year since I started The books, the art and me – the time has flown! I have really enjoyed writing the blog so far – it has encouraged me to¬†review more books, to look more closely at the exhibitions I have visited and to find new and exciting¬†books and art to feature. I have discovered many great blogs throughout the year, plenty of excellent book recommendations and some stunning artwork. I am very grateful to all the lovely bloggers who have commented, helped and encouraged me – I look forward to reading more of your work and getting to know you better!¬†I would also like to thank everyone who has read and followed the blog – I still can’t believe it has been seen by people all over the world! And, of course, a big thank you to my first followers – my family, who have supported me throughout my blogging career so far. I hope that in its second year of being, my blog will become better – with more content and new ideas. Watch this space! ūüôā

What better way to celebrate, than with a discussion of a stained-glass window by the one and only¬†Harry Clarke! ūüėÄ

This window is The Angel of Peace and Hope (1918), by Harry Clarke, and it is located in the Holy Trinity Church in Killiney. The window was presented to the church by Mrs Lloyd, in memory of her late husband.¬† The family’s crest can also be seen on the window. I visited¬†the church¬†during the summer as part of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown’s Summer of Heritage programme. The rector at the church is very interested in art, and kindly discussed the window with me. I was also talking with some of the parishioners who were very¬†helpful and welcoming, and they gave me a book on the church’s history – which included information about the various stained-glass windows.

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The central figure of this image is the angel of the title, and its elegant features and hands are typical of Harry Clarke’s refined style. The angel’s¬†features are believed to be modelled on¬†a portrait of¬†Elizabeth I.¬†The fact that the angel’s wings, and the bird above the angel’s hand (presumably a dove, in keeping with the theme of peace) intersect the border make it a very dynamic image. The window makes great use of the pink-gold glass seen in much of Clarke’s work – the colour makes an impact here as it is used for the angel’s wings. The different colours shot through the glass here add to the feathery effect. The varying intensity of colour in the wings was achieved with the use of acid on the¬†back of the glass.


The angel’s shoes are reminiscent of Irish metalwork, and I was also really interested in the detail of the angel’s¬†robe, and the border of the window. The purple robe is intricately detailed, with floral motifs and minute detailing in black outlines. Such attention to¬†detail is seen throughout the window – in the¬†foliage beneath the angel’s¬†feet, and in the beading around the¬†halo and the border for instance. ¬†In contrast, the background of the window is rather plain with a diamond pattern on clear glass. However, this enables the figure of the angel to stand out¬†as it¬†provides¬†a contrast¬†with the rich¬†colours of the robe¬†that are so characteristic of Clarke’s work.¬†Furthermore, the clear¬†glass makes¬†for a very bright window – again echoing the themes of hope and peace.


In the picture below, a detail of the border shows a curving ‘h’. Initially I couldn’t find Clarke’s signature on this work, and then I found this letter in the border. Below this is a lighthouse motif, with crashing waves.¬†The¬†border is¬†composed¬†of alternating panels of clear and emerald green glass. The clear rectangles feature¬†designs including religious scenes and floral motifs, while the emerald squares feature abstract designs, as well as crosses and flowers.


Photos of the church, and of the other stained-glass windows there can be seen on their website here.

Thank you again for your support during my first year of blogging – and I hope you will continue to read my blog in the future!


Exciting News! (Of book guides and gallery tours)

Isn't it lovely? Cover illustration by the wonderful Niamh Sharkey (current Laureate na n√ďg)

Isn’t it lovely? Cover illustration by the wonderful Niamh Sharkey (current Laureate na n√ďg)

The new Mad About Books guide was launched recently, it’s a guide published by¬†Dubray Books to help parents, teachers, librarians or young readers find great new reads. This is exciting news for me because I was an assistant editor on the project. I proof read the document, did one of the reviews (of Mo Willem’s charming picture book Knuffle Bunny) and wrote several author profiles. It was wonderful to see my name printed in the credits! (see image below)¬†The guide is a great resource; fiction¬†books are separated into different age categories, there are also sections for poetry and non-fiction, as well as¬†an excellent piece¬†at the end¬†on books about different issues. There are also lots of author profiles, interviews and book suggestions.¬†I would highly recommend it for finding books for all ages, babies, children, young adults, or adults like myself with a passion for children’s and teen fiction. All that, and more, for only ‚ā¨2!

My name (Jenny Duffy) is at the end of the first paragraph. Excitement!

My name (Jenny Duffy) is at the end of the first paragraph. Excitement!

And my other piece of exciting news is that today I gave my first tour in the National Gallery of Ireland! The group was over in Dublin for a conference, and I showed them around the Irish rooms. I was quite nervous, but once I got into the tour I had a lot of fun, and I feel it went really well. Thankfully, the group seemed to think so too! This tour was a one-off, but I’m hoping to do more tour guiding in the future. Onwards and upwards!

Coming soon: lots of arty London posts, Mountains to Sea book festival madness and more reviews. Happy reading!