A Symphony of Stained Glass – Flight of the Egret


Great west end St John’s Cathedral Brisbane, looking towards the Millennium window designed by Scott Maxwell made by

At Brisbane, Australian designer Scott Maxwell is an artist with a great gift.

He uses the medium of stained glass in a vibrant and illuminating way.

Inspired by the best traditions of his craft he honours those who have gone before, and himself.

He executes his commissions with a fresh vitality that is tactile and totally relevant to contemporary society, connecting an affinity of the mind with the spirit and the soul.

Following on from the brilliance of his design for the great western Millennium ‘Incarnation’ window for St. John’s Cathedral in Brisbane (installed in 2001 and dedicated by the Queen in March 2002 on her visit to Brisbane), he has created a small, but for me more personal and powerful symphony in stained glass.

It is a window commissioned for the prayer room of the multi purpose chapel at Royal Brisbane Hospital.

The chapel is an intimate haven of quiet, amid the bustle of a busy hospital complex.

Those seeking to open themselves through prayer and quiet reflection are better able to come to terms with the challenges they face by contemplating Scott’s deeply moving ‘Flight of the Egret’.

The Egret, on the world stage, is a versatile bird of great beauty that has become renowned, particularly over the last century.

egret-nice-flightIt has a wonderful ability to adapt to changing conditions as man encroaches on its natural habitat.

The little egret, egretta garzetta, is native and endemic to the area surrounding the hospital, so it is a theme more than appropriate and a very challenging one.

It directly relates to what those at the hospital are called to do on a daily basis, whether they are doctors, nurses, administrative staff, religious leaders, patients, loved ones or visitors.

Scott shows great sensitivity, refinement and concern with the higher things in life by uniting three windows (one large with two small side lights) with the shape of an egg, the beginning of life.

He has used a unique hammered metal finish that he developed to represent the protective qualities of the shell of the egg.

His directional lines are both firm and confident, representing life’s journey.

They also act as un-threatening pointers toward an illuminated haven far off in the distance, one that is not dark or morbid but one where truth, love and peace exist in abundance.

Flight of Egret 2

The Flight of the Egret, designed by Scott Maxwell, a symphony of stained glass, chapel of the Royal Brisbane Hospital

Inside the egg Scott has used paints, clear stains and washes in a technique he describes himself as ‘controlled chance, just like life itself’ to represent that warm, gentle, secure place where we are nurtured before beginning our own journey through life, perhaps one we wish in hindsight we were not in such a hurry to escape from, or to.

The egrets, who are all well along the flight path of their journey, are carved lovingly from wood and then textured to provide a tactile, sculptural quality, that compliments the transparency of the glorious coloured glass into which they are fused in bas-relief.

Their fluid flight path is through a natural world, one represented by clean positive faded colours that subtly and soothingly reflect the sky, the rivers, the earth and the oceans.

They offer the viewer an opportunity to attain a great sense of peacefulness and serenity, as well as perhaps an understanding of the purpose and meaning of a life that is either lost, or saved.

It is indeed a rare ability that Scott has to convey deep and very meaningful visual messages that in the end become a metaphor for life itself.

I experienced a deep and abiding sense of inner reflective quiet peace that was almost immediately followed by an outburst of sheer joy when I encountered Scott Maxwell’s ‘The Flight of the Egret’

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2010 – 2015

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