Anyone who thinks that creating stained glass is a skill lost in the mists of history should visit Lanark’s Tolbooth next week to discover the happy news that this is far from the truth.
Visitors will see a display of the glass created by the pupils of five local schools who have been taking part in an unique project which not only celebrates that ancient skill but also our area’s glorious social history.
Originating with the New Lanark Primary School Parents’ Association, the Windows of Learning project commemorates the 200th anniversary of the creation of Robert Owen’s history-making Institute for the Formation of Character in the village. each stained glass panel illustrating a part of the story of the groundbreaking founding of what many regard as the birthplace of universal education.
The schools taking part are New Lanark Primary. Kirkfieldbank Primary. Lanark Primary, St Mary’s Primary and Robert Owen Memorial Primary Schools.
Before work creating the glass panels got underway, pupils visited New Lanark World Heritage Site to find out about Robert Owen and his ethos.
This was followed by three workshops led by artist Fiona Foley of Leadhills in which they tried their hand at printing and glass cutting.
A project spokeswoman explained: “From this, came a myriad of ideas which were skilfully incorporated into each of the eight panels by Fiona, who has produced similar commissions for other schools in South Lanarkshire. During April and May, the project delivered workshops on Owen’s educational methods to parents, guardians and teachers which included talks by experts in the field such as author Sue Palmer. Local nurseries were treated to workshops in drama, drumming and nature craft based on a ‘Castaway’ theme, as a tribute to Robert Owen’s favourite book ‘Robinson Crusoe’ by Daniel Defoe.”
In another ‘offshoot’ from the project, the network of pathways through the sceneic woodlands around New Lanark are being used by 20 parents and teachers to take a course in outdoors education towards a Forest School qualification.
The Windows of Learning stained glass exbibition the Tolbooth runs from Monday, August 28, to Thursday, August 31, open daily from 10am to 4pm.
The project spokeswoman said: “When the exhibition closes in the Tolbooth, the stained-glass panels will be installed in the recently refurbished New Lanark Primary School, while all participating schools will be gifted with a framed image of the eight panels so that children can continue to be inspired by the windows and Robert Owen for many years to come.
“The project was made possible by LEADER and Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership with funding from Big Lottery Fund, Clydesdale Bank PLC and New Lanark Trust.
“New Lanark Primary School Parents Association and the Partnership would also like to thank the family and friends of the late George Cullen, who donated £800. Mr Cullen was a local man, formerly a teacher at Dalzell High School and Biggar High School, and a lover of the Clyde and Avon Valley area.”