Client: The Cathedral council of Lund
Location: Lund, Sweden
Completion date: 2023
Per Steen Hebsgaard
In 2023 the altar in the crypt of the Romanesque cathedral of Lund in southern Sweden celebrates 900 years. To commemorate this, a stained-glass window, “Hope”, was commissioned for the apse. The main artistic work was done during the winter of 2020. The world felt dark, we were deep into a deadly pandemic with no ease in sight. Where was hope to be found? Will a sense of hope appear if it’s visualized? I chose to work with hope as the theme for my sketches with the intention to create a piece of art that could be a source of inspiration to the Cathedral’s worshippers and visitors. The piece depicts a window facing east, open to the light of dawn, the beginning of a new day that brings new hope. The window in the window is a portrait of the Cathedral itself as a building. The perspective in the picture continues the bold perspective of the actual window opening, celebrating the ancient and powerful architecture and stonework. The two blue nuances framing the view refer to The Virgin Mary (ultramarine) and John the Baptist (aqua) to whom the altar was inaugurated to in 1123. The glazing was made by Per Steen Hebsgaard in Denmark, using traditional lead came technique. The piece was created with bespoke traditionally crafted glass from Lamberts Glassworks, Germany.
The main goal is to inspire the Cathedral's visitors and worshippers, conveying a sense of hope. Another goal was for the new piece of contemporary art to communicate well with the Romanesque architecture from the 12th century. The piece needed to add a contemporary quality to the crypt, yet to be respectful to the context with its many historical layers. The window is situated in the apse behind the altar, previously glazed with plain frosted glass. With the new art piece installed, the window has become an important part of the cathedral's daily liturgy.
The piece was created in close dialogue with representatives of the Cathedral of Lund. Representatives from a regional art museum were also involved when choosing among several sketches. In cooperation with the cathedrals architect, responsible for continuous building preservation, the regional authority for building conservation gave permission to the installment of a new window.
There was close collaboration between artist and glazier, especially regarding transforming the colors in the sketch to glass, both in achieving colors to fade from light to intense, as well as in creating the glow in the color that represent dawn.