Client: Diocese of Kericho
Location: Kericho, Kenya
Completion date: 2018
Artwork budget: $180,000
John Kenneth Clark
The brief was to create a set of “Stations of the Cross” for the window openings of the side aisles for Kericho Cathedral. Instead of a traditional approach, I had proposed that we make relief sculpted panels using Bullseye glass to create these works. There are 14 panel, 2 mt high x between 0.45 – 0.60 m.t We were later asked also to create an external series. We did this by using the same mould to create positive relief sculpted panels using float glass fused together to create a 20mm sheet that was then slumped on the mould.
The “Stations of the Cross”.were an essential part of the concept for the building. I was part of the design team during the building design phase and was able to determine the spaces that were to be used. The external series was an afterthought, but have proved very successful and work beautifully in this wonderful garden setting. The concept of the garden as a recreational and meditative space was part of the design brief for the building. The external Stations add the religious meditative context. These glass panels are very subtle on overcast days and when in shadow. However, they come to life when the sunlight hits them.
The making f the Stations if the Cross was a collaborative project between myself and Florence Wangui. I had been charged with finding and mentoring local artists to create the art works for the Cathedral. Florence had never worked with glass or even with clay. Even the concept of a scaled design was unknown to her. We worked through a design phase. Followed by a full scaled drawing phase. I wanted the panels to contain a slice of the theme containing the figure or partial figure of Christ and the crossover detail from the cross. It is a difficult shape to design for. Then a sample clay sculpting phase. Even procuring clay of a suitable quality proved a challenge in Kenya. I had developed this method of relief sculpted glass in a project for Glenmorangie Whisky Distillery and a subsequent visit to the Northlands Glass Studio in Caithness in Scotland where Michael Bullen instructed me in techniques of casting for glass. Florence and I worked through all phases of the project from drawings to installation.
There have been tremendous issues producing these pieces in Kenya. A kiln was imported, but as a firing takes between 6 to 8 days to complete, the struggle to have a constant power supply during this time was a challenge. The exterior panels with the more forgiving technique and less sensitive float glass were less of a challenge. I discovered, though disputed, that altitude is an important factor in fusing glass. I had to modify each portion of the firing schedule to compensate for this. To have created this series in these conditions is a minor miracle.