Stories on Whalls: St. Mary’s Church, Stamford, Lincs.

 

 

Whall designed the Lady Chapel East window in 1891. This was Whall’s first independent commission and was given to him by John Dando Sedding. Whall described the window as “the foundation and beginning of everything”. Indeed Whall designed and made the window, with the help of one assistant, in a cowshed at Stonebridge, near Dorking in Surrey which Whall was using as a workshop. Meticulous preparation was said to have gone into producing the window, including the making of a suit of armour for the St Michael figure from papier-mâché – which his assistant had to wear! The window shows Adam and Eve in the outer main lights flanking Gabriel and St Michael with the Virgin & Child in the centre light. The tracery lights are based on the Mysteries of the Rosary. At the apex of the tracery is the Coronation of the Virgin. The firing and glazing were carried out by Britten & Gilson. The image in gallery below is shown courtesy Peter Jones. In The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire by Nikolaus Pevsner and John Harris they say of this window “in a style derived from the Pre-Raphaelites but more hard edged and Impressionist”. There is a second window dating to 1893 in the North side of the Lady Chapel this completed jointly with Louis Davis. (List of works by Christopher Whall)

“Listen, God love everything you love – and a mess of stuff you don’t. But more than anything. God loves admiration.”
You saying God vain? I ast.
Naw, she say. Not vain, just wanting to share a good thing. I think it pisses God off if you walk by the colour purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”  (Alice Walker, The Color Purple)

(Thanks to John Smith for all his help and insight on the Christopher Whall window.)

Stories on W(h)alls: Erika Fuchs Haus, Museum für Comic und Sprachkunst, Schwarzenbach.

“This is a fictional country isn’t it?”
“No, it’s real – we just don’t know where it is yet.”

My mum, daughter and I had just arrived in Schwarzenbach to visit the Erika Fuchs Haus, named after my god mother and my mum’s aunt, Erika Fuchs, who used to send me ten Deutsche Marks annually for my birthday which was quite a tidy sum for a youngster back then.

In those days I was completely oblivious to her work and much more inclined to follow The Beano. But I was rapidly brought up to speed some 50 years later when being introduced to the museum by its head, Dr. Alexandra Hentschel, and private collector, Gerhard Severin.

After being introduced to a multimedia history of comic stories and graphic novels in a darkened studio, a side door opens and a bright green gallery of the country of Entenhausen and all the Disney characters greets you in a sunny, shiny green lively reveal which made us all go ‘wow’ in unison.

Gerhard showed us an interactive map of Entenhausen which looked simultaneously plausible and impossible and which prompted my question of whether or not Entenhausen was fictional. His response of “No, it’s real – we just don’t know where it is yet” struck me as the perfect riposte to those of us who struggle with whether stories are fictions, whether fictions are facts, whether facts are fictions, and all those impossible questions about what constitutes real worlds, unreal worlds, truths and falsehoods.

It’s also a great antidote to those who tell you, in these post-Brexit times of ‘There is No Alternative‘ in the UK, that there is a very real, viable and tangible alternative: we just don’t know where it is yet.

 

As well as enjoying the museum we were also fortunate to encounter the stories of the stained glass windows in the restaurant of our accommodation, the Hotel Strauss in Hof.  They provided a comic contrast to Erika’s work, simultaneously conjuring up the work of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and playing against the religious symbolism of the Whall windows I’ve been visiting across the UK.

Many personal and family stories revealed themselves over the following days and helped place various pieces of the missing family jigsaw into the relevant slots in the bigger picture: whether they are actually truth or fiction is an ongoing question which will require a few more visits to Schwarzenbach and its homage to the work of my mysterious god mother and Great Aunt, Dr. Erika Fuchs neé Petri.