In conversation with…Michael Ross
We talk to stained glass artist Michael Ross in the latest of our ‘In conversation…’ interviews.
What medium do you work in?
Well, I work in glass, traditional stained glass, design and restoration, but also paint and make 3D installations too.
What is your favourite subject matter?
For new work, the subject matter varies, but mostly figurative narrative, myths and imaginings and elements of nature. I also run courses and work at festival events.
How did you come to do this kind of work?
I started as a fine art painter at St Martin’s in the early 1980s, As it merged with Central School, I because interested in stained glass. After leaving in 1987, I worked for a stained-glass studio in the East end of London, Goddard’s and Gibbs. It had been going since the 1800s, so I learned loads. After that, I worked at a small studio in Brixton South London for many years, until returning to this area in 1999. My MA is in product design, and this has encouraged my use of mixed mediums and construction.
Tell us a little about the process of producing a piece.
The process of producing traditional stained glass hasn’t changed much since the 1300s, Just basic hand tools to cut glass and shape the lead. Other skills combine in the craft, starting with a full painting, then full scale line drawing, and cartoon scaled before beginning to work with the glass using various techniques – hand painting, kiln work, sand blasting, etching, engraving. So a few stages. .
Has anyone inspired you?
I do like the work of Marc Chagall.
What is most challenging about your work?
The many different skills needed to be applied in a given time, as windows were made in the main with many artists and craftspeople working together. Also, I recycle as much old glass as I can as a lot is no longer available.
Give us an idea of the types of places finished works are located.
I’ve completed many windows for homes all over the UK, but mostly in London. Other works are in historic and period buildings and churches and businesses. There are also several projects in Barbados and St Vincent in the Caribbean.
Tell us about a piece you were particularly pleased with.
The recent works I’ve enjoyed have been a series of new windows for two churches in Barbados – Holetown Methodist and Belmont. Also the interpretation for Birmingham Art School of a painting by the late David Prentice, the landscape painter.
How has Arts Central helped you achieve your goals?
Arts Central was able to offer me a place to work and interact with a range of creatives, which is important when you work alone.