Examining themes and artistry behind Peadar Lamb’s iconic stained glass windows at Irish Repertory Theatre.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ireland’s history is rich in the art of stained glass; artists such as Evie Hone, Harry Clarke and his studio, and, more recently, Patrick Pye come to mind. Peadar Lamb however, wants to be recognized as an artist who works in the medium of glass. Perhaps he feels an affinity to the great craftsmen of medieval cathedrals whose work was the decorative addition to a closely observed canon, and not a singular personal statement.
Born in Dublin in 1966, the eldest son and first child of renowned actors Peadar Lamb and Geraldine Plunkett, Peadar Lamb’s artistic lineage is impressive. A grandson of Charles Lamb RHA, the Irish landscape and genre painter, a great-grandson of Ford Madox Ford and a great-great-great-grandson of the Pre-Raphaelite artist Ford Madox Brown, he has shown work extensively in Ireland and internationally, and his work can be seen in public and private collections in Europe, the US, the Middle East, and Japan.
IN THE ARTIST’S WORDS
From the inside, reading from right to left:
Though the composition and content is not exactly chronological it could be taken that way. The imagery used can be viewed separately or the imagery can be viewed as one complete composition. The content of the piece is based on a number of plays with some images referencing more than one play. In some instances this is reflected in a feeling or quality rather than a reference to a specific play.
The imagery moves symbolically westward from the shores of Ireland to the New World, ending with arms raised in performance and celebration, under Seán O’Casey’s stars.
The first panel on the right represents Ireland, it’s turbulent history, emigration and the presence of the Church in that society. The images in this panel reference the Famine and plays of emigration such as Tom Murphy’s Famine: the formless, raggy figures, the Coffin Ship with the dead child, the Emigrant parents unable to face each other and the Church in JB Shaw’s John Bull’s Other Island.
The next panel is connected with the formless figures changing into the waves under Synge’s Playboy of the Western World. This panel also represents Tommy Makem’s play Invasions & Legacies with Cessair (Noah’s daughter) becoming Ireland, the heads of Shaw, Wilde, Beckett, Behan and Joyce, on the mainland with the head of Synge on the Aran Islands. Also portrayed from this play the Sleeping Fish and the Tuatha De Danann. In front of the waves and the playboy you have the dead man and his pipe in the grave from Mártín ó Caidhin’s Cré na Cille (Soil of the Grave). All these panels are connected with the geometric blues, drawing the viewer from the first panel across to the third panel.
In this third panel, the blue rises into the stairs in front of which there waits a suitcase about to leave or having just returned referencing Philadelphia Here I Come! (Brian Friel), The Country Boy (John Murphy) and Conversations of a Homecoming (Tom Murphy). The stairs rises up to the drugged and floating mother from Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night. This play is also referenced with the partially lit bulb.
The floating bird and this woman again reference a story told in Brendan Behan’s The Hostage as does the soldier and windows in the middle of this panel, with the room almost like a character in the play itself. The Cockerel with its chest out heralds its arrival in this new world. The cock here is referencing the Mad Hens in Bailegangaire (Tom Murphy) and Cock-a Doodle Dandy (Seán O’Casey). The simple buildings that the cock stands on are repeated across the next two panels and in the Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett) panel they frame the lone tree and the waiting aimless footsteps.
The final panel is celebrating the ‘performer’ with the audience in the foreground. This performer is a singer in The Gigli Concert (Tom Murphy), the famous ‘Big Jim Larkin’, with Séan O’Casey’s stars that shine bright above. The tattooed figure celebrates all the great playwrights from both the past and present.
A film documenting the creation of Peadar Lamb’s iconic Stained Glass Windows at Irish Repertory Theatre.
Director: Graeme Wells
Producer: Peadar Lamb
Co-Producer: Piaras Mac Cionnaith | FactFilm Production
Executive Producer: Keith Hutchinson | H2 Films
Associate Executive Producer: Loretta Brennan Glucksman
Camera: Piaras Mac Cionnaith
Editor: Graeme Wells
Copyright: Peadar Lamb
Video Made with Special Thanks to The American Ireland Fund.
The creation of the Stained Glass Windows was made possible by the generous patronage of Tina Santi Flaherty.