Thursday, 22 November 2007

Cardiff, Wales

The Cardiff Menagerie.....

Each bird & animal is carved from stone,
and perches on the walls of the castle grounds.

Hundreds of people walk past them each and every day,
and don't seem to notice them.

I find them fascinating.

I don't know how many there are,
but you have seen a selection - probably fewer than half.

The main entrance to Cardiff Castle.
There are Roman walls below street level,
but most of the castle as it stands was built relatively recently,
within the last 200 years.

The red dragon (draig goch) is the national symbol of Wales.

The decorative clock tower of the castle.
The castle was a collaboration between Lord Bute,
who paid for it, and William Burgess, who designed it.

It is highly decorated, inside and out,
and well worth the entry fees.
The use of ornamentation within the castle is fantastic!

See here for more information, and pictures:

A 'wall of water' sculpture outside the
Wales Millenium Arts Centre in Cardiff Bay

The Millenium Arts Centre, in Cardiff Bay.
The building uses slate, wood, copper, and other materials traditionally used in Wales in its construction, and is designed to reflect the nation.
I think people either love it or hate it.
I love it.

A closer view of the 'wall of words'

The atrium in the Millenium Arts Centre - a free concert was happening here during my visit

The booking & ticket sales hall of the Millenium Arts Centre

This is the Senedd building in Cardiff Bay, where Welsh Ministers & Assembly Members debate issues relating to Wales. The building design reflects the idea of 'transparency' - and the commitment to transparent government in Wales. The building is also a good example of sustainable building design.

This is the top of the 'funnel' inside the building.
The 'funnel' lets light into the debating chamber, which is below street level.

This is how the 'funnel' looks in the main atrium area of the building. The building uses a lot of steel, slate, glass and wood. My son, who works as a stonemason, worked on some of the stone and/or slate used in the construction of the building, while it was being built.

The Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay - this used
to be the communication centre for the port.
It is a true Victorian confection of a building,
with lots of interesting details.

One of many panels set into the walls of the Pierhead building.

A mosaic panel in the riverside walk area near the Millenium Stadium,
in the centre of Cardiff

An interesting building in Cardiff Bay area.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Conrad Schmitt Studios

While I was visiting Wisconsin I had an extra special treat - I was given a guided tour of Conrad Schmitt Studios. My friend Maggi's son works there, and he was delighted to show us around.

If you want to know more about Conrad Schmitt and what they do, check out their website:

Basically, Conrad Schmitt are a world class organisation which renovates and restores old buildings - churches, cathedrals, and more. They do the complete restoration, including paintwork, stained glass windows and frescoes. The entire studio was a feast for the eyes....

There are models of all manner of decorative objects,
everywhere. I liked this pillar top.

This window, built into the studio wall, was fascinating.
Although my brain 'knew' that the red wine glass was part of the window,
my perception was that it appeared to be about a foot in front of the window.
The effect is less obvious on the photo, but was very pronounced on the day,
and is caused by the fact that some colours
make things appear further away than others.

A wooden model of Christ on the crucifix.

As church restorations form a large part of the work of the studio,
they have quite a collection of crucifix models,
and also of the 12 stations of the cross.

Models are stacked on top of and hung on the ends of the large racks
designed to hold the sheets of glass.
The studio has a fantastic selection of glass.
The 'cartoon' hung above is one that would have been used
by an artist to show how to shade the glass when it was being painted

More models on the end of another glass rack.
These are mostly made of plaster.

An effigy of a child.

Nice pair of cherubs!!!

A wall panel

A painting, with a 'clean' strip across the middle,
showing where the restoration has taken place.

A modern stained glass window,
built into the studio wall.

Some stained glass windows waiting to be delivered.
The one on the right was about 4 ft 6 inches high.

Several 'cartoons' are drawn for each stained glass window.
This one is to show the painter where the 'light' falls.
This will be cut into pieces, and matched up with the individual piece of glass,
so that when the artist is painting the piece,
he or she can match the shading to the cartoon.

This cartoon shows which colour glass goes where

This is a window in progress - where the glass has been cut in the different colours,
and has been laid on a workspace as if it were a giant jigsaw.
This glass will have painted designs added, plus light and shade, before firing in a kiln.
It will then be leaded up ready for installation.

This panel has been painted and fired, and has had the glass edges copper foiled.
This is the way Tiffany did his interior glass panels - after copper foiling,
the entire panels were soldered together.

This is nearly ready to put together with lead.
The artist is just checking it on a giant light box,
to make sure all the paintwork is perfect.

The interior of the studio - not a square inch of hanging space is wasted.
There are models and cartoons everywhere,
and some of the artwork is built into the building.

Some plaster models, showing different finishes.

A glass wall - each panel is over 6 feet high - where the design is modern.
Conrad Schmitt are experimenting & developing new etching techniques.

A modern stained glass window,
an example of their artwork built into the studio building.
There are interesting things hanging on
every vertical space in the studio!

Models hung on the end of the glass racks.
Modern stained glass window built into studio wall.

These were painted 'cartoons' or small scale paintings
of the design for a domed ceiling

I would like to say a HUGE thank you to
Kevin Grabowski for showing me around.
I could spend a whole month there and not see all there is to see,
but I loved my quick tour.
It really made me appreciate some of the
processes involved in restoration,
and also the skill and craftmanship
of the artists working for Conrad Schmitt.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Holy Hill, Wisconsin

Holy Hill is a Catholic place of worship in Wisconsin.
It is also a place that many people visit,
to see the beauty of the church
and the views from the church

One of the 12 stations of the cross,
all illustrated in grottoes in the grounds

Main altar

Side chapel

Stained glass window above main door

View from Holy Hill