The Dalserf Address

On Memorial Windows to the Memory of Andrew Shaw, Born in Dalserf
Douglas Hogg

Stained glass artist Douglas Hogg spoke to the congregation of Dalserf Parish Church about the two windows dedicated to my grandfather on 5 December 1999.—Ed.

It seemed appropriate that on that day of installation of the first of the pair of windows, the churchyard and church were visited by several groups of ­people—an Irish couple, an English family, and a Scots couple from nearby. All had headed to the churchyard seeking information, or clues perhaps, on a distant relative with links to Dalserf. The English couple were to consult the parish records. At the time I felt that this was a very relevant coincidence: the sense of a historical ‘moving through’ became at once poignant and dramatic. I felt that a dispersal from one small place in the past can once again be touched in time like faint but ever-present ripples in a pool.

The windows themselves represent a passing through, ­referring symbolically to one life lived. Alpha and omega— ‘I am the beginning and the end’: both symbols appear centrally in each window. The movement from left to right via the pulpit animates the environmental architectural setting. Indeed, given the presence of a door of entry to either side of that south-facing wall, I am put in mind of the Anglo-Saxon metaphor for life. Life, they expressed, was like a dove entering a great hall, animated by the flickering light of torches and a hearty fire. It enters through an aperture high on the wall, experiencing at once the warmth, the light, the laughter, the smells and sounds of feasting and celebration—the confirmation of human cordiale and engagement. Sensing all this on its discreet, direct, and short flight through the hall, the dove exits by a similar portal in an opposite wall. Even the architecture extends the allusion to life referred to in the windows. The movement, in the case of Andrew Shaw’s life, took him from one mining locality to another, but more than that, from one continent to another.

In the large sun circles in the upper area of each design, there is the representation of a dove of peace gliding down and rising away, with the blue ground representing the early sun, the warm ground the late. Rays emanate from this, the focus of light and a governing protective influence. In the temporal areas below the spiritual, the linking theme of water is represented: on the left side, the River Clyde flows in a perpendicular direction; on the right, the large, dividing Atlantic Ocean lies before the settling sun. In a personal reference, Andrew Shaw’s favourite flowers are represented along the foot of each window: bluebell, iris, and rose.

The coincidence of meeting these groups of people at the church that day left quite a powerful impression on me. I felt the value of human relationships and our latent impotent sense of wonder at it all: ‘We wait for light, but behold obscurity’ (Book of Isaiah).

About the Artist

Douglas Hogg, DA(Edin.), FMGP, FSA Scot, FRSA. Born in Edinburgh in 1948, Douglas Hogg studied both stained glass and drawing and painting at Edinburgh College of Art. A year of postgraduate study and a further scholarship to France confirmed a commitment to develop a personal vision involving a colouristic and painterly approach to composition based on fine-art principles, as opposed to an unqualified arbitrary use of colour.

In 2003, he had a major one-man show in Germany, ‘Past and Present Futures’. Other solo and group shows include non-commissioned offerings in London; ‘Glass Light and Space’, a British Crafts Council touring exhibition; and an applied-art group show at Kyoto Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan. Mr Hogg has also been an exhibitor at the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Art. He has paintings and exhibition pieces in collections in Britain, Europe and the USA. He is a Fellow and council member of the British Society of Master Glass Painters.

He was lecturer-in-charge of the stained/architectural glass degree course at Edinburgh College of Art from 1979 to 2000. ­ Currently, Mr Hogg is the external examiner for the architectural glass degree course, Swansea Institute, University of Wales. In 2003, he was the winner of the Saltire Society Award for Art in Architecture.