Public Art Research Archive, Sheffield Hallam University

Catrin Jones
Lyceum Windows, 1990
Lyceum Theatre
Stained Glass


Above the Stage Door of the Lyceum Theatre, facing Arundel Gate. (A-Z p5 4F)

The panels compose an image that extends the four storeys of a stairwell. It is meant to be read as a theatre fly-tower with several sets in readiness. However, on each landing the glass can be appreciated as a discrete design. Throughout the panels a musical score can be seen running vertically down the building. This is taken from a handwritten Beethoven violin concerto. There is a wonderful focus on colour and details throughout, the details possibly meant to be the textures and patterns of the sets themselves, and they seem to form an important abstract theme.

Sheffield Theatres.

The panels lit at night create a powerful image for the Theatre, and can be seen from Park Hill across the valley and from Pond Street. Since most theatre life takes place at night it is appropriate that the theatre should physically come to light at this time.

Artist's statement:
My aim when designing the windows was to attempt to convey the potential magic and excitement of the theatrical experience. Each window is designed to be a separate entity when viewed from the inside, yet will form a coherent whole when viewed externally. The designs are contemporary and accord with the architectural modernity of the new back-stage facilities. I hope that the glass, particularly when illuminated at night, will act as a beacon to identify the building from a distance, and form an intriguing and welcoming symbol of the theatre's power to entrance and delight.

"Representation: The windows represent a cross-section of the theatre's fly-tower, as if the curtain wall has been removed, and the internal machinations laid bare. The top floor shows the steel grid and a castellated beam, beneath which lies the stage below. The vertical blue lines represent the steel wires from which the scenery is suspended. Each of the three lower windows illustrates an imaginary theatrical set, suspended above the stage, ready and waiting to be lowered into place at the appropriate scene. Each ascending scene becomes increasingly elaborate, and is intended to suggest an entrance into the theatre. The musical notation, which appears on each floor, gives a vertical coherence to the work, and is an abstraction from the original score of Beethoven's violin concerto.

"Materials: The 26 panels are made from "antique" glass - new glass that has been handblown in the traditional ("antique") manner. The glass was manufactured by Lamberts of Waldsassen, Germany, and approximately half has been made specially for this commision. All the glass has been opalised - a thin milky surface layer has been laid on the base sheet, which inreases luminosity, particularly at night. The coloured areas use "flashed" glass, whereby a thin coating of coloured glass has been layered ("flashed") over the base sheet and the opalescence. The total area of glass is 37.42 metres square. The designs have been etched onto the glass with hydrofluoric acid, which erodes the "flashed" colour coating to reveal the base sheet underneath."

Some internal damage has been sustained by the windows and the artist has been contacted with a view to replacing the damaged portions.
Several panes from the second and third floor windows have been removed - presumably for mending.
New panes have been completed but have not yet been installed.
(2003) New windows installed.

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Last updated September 5, 2006