The Wetlands Phoenix

This rose window was commissioned by St Osmunds Church in Castelnau Barnes London. Here Eric writes his experience of its conception the making of it and its effect on all those who see it.


We have here something to marvel at, simply because, like anything manmade that stops you in your tracks, and certainly the best of medieval glass, its maker is eclipsed by the impact of its content and the natural forces which reside in it – the ethereal glittering beauty of natural light and intense colour. More a lens than a window this magnifies and orchestrates the passing time, seasons, the nights and days of our lives.

Conceived in Chartres, that diadem of the West – incubated and hatched in Barnes over a period of twenty months, this bird in its heaven, dominated committee and artist alike, who simply watched as it unfurled itself before their startled eyes, with possibilities, persons and materials appearing unbidden, as if by magic.

Chalice, dove, phoenix, fire, stars, rainbows, equal-armed cross are universal metaphors for our true spiritual nature, which transcends our frightened attempts to cage it. Thus, apart from certain acquired techniques, this maker is no creator – the content is ageless and originates elsewhere. The basic structure springs from the Golden Mean, found throughout nature as we can see in the head of a sunflower or the spiral motion of a galaxy.

A bird is a chalice is a phoenix is the human spirit rising eternally from its ashes – nothing original there either, save our recognition and response to its challenge.

—Eric Cooper 2003