Wooler firm helps with restoration project

Neil Wilton
Neil Wilton

A north Northumberland company which specialises in displaying stained glass has just had its latest work installed.

IWF Ltd, based at Ilderton, near Wooler, was commissioned by the Ely Stained Glass Museum in Cambridgeshire.

It was looking for a way of displaying artworks by the late Geoffrey Clark, a renowned stained glass designer.

It raised £15,000 to buy four stained glass panels by Clarke, a respected Royal Academician who worked on the pioneering modern glazing project at Coventry Cathedral.

“These objects were stored away and have rarely seen daylight since they were first exhibited in the Royal College of Art Exhibition in 1950,” said Neil Wilton, director of IWF Ltd.

They were sent to York Glaziers Trust and conserved by trainee conservators from the University of York. Neil was then approached on the recommendation of the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum in London.

“We have been working with the V&A for about 30 years and almost all the stained glass there has been framed over the years by IWF Ltd,” said Neil. “Ely were stuck for a method of display and were keen to hear what we could do.

“I quickly arranged a visit to the York Glaziers Trust workshops in York, so I could see the artworks, measure them and get a feel for what kind of display they would need.

“These artworks are stained glass-centred but are three-dimensional and not the normal stained glass we are experts in displaying. After discussion with Nick Teed and Sarah Brown at the York Glaziers Trust, a proposal for the display system was drawn up and sent to Ely.

“Quite the hardest part of displaying the Clarke artworks was finding discreet lighting that was powerful enough to penetrate the glass. Some of the objects were made up from three layers of intense dark blue colours. After some more consultation we were commissioned to make the display systems.”

These were delivered mid-2015. Everything was fully restored and installed in March and Neil was delighted to be asked to be a guest at the official opening by Loyd Grossman last Saturday.

“The artist’s son, Jonathan, was present and approved of my work,” said Neil. “Most pleasing to the conservators was the display of the object Saint Anthony, which was made in 1949 and is the largest surviving example of Clarke’s stained glass from his years as a student at the RCA.

“The reason this pleased me the most was that prior to being displayed in our illuminated system, nobody had ever been able to truly see the detail and beauty of this object before. It came to life when the displays were switched on.

“The new artworks are a wonderful addition to the museum. The whole museum is actually a glorious collection of a whole range of stained glass and is very well worth a visit if you’re near Ely.”

IWF Ltd, standing for Ian Wilton Family, was founded by Neil’s late father in the 1960s. Its other notable installations include York Minster and Glasgow’s Burrell Museum. Visit www.thestainedglassdisplaycompany.co.uk