Arts Council England has awarded Nathalie with a grant that will fund the making of a stained glass window for the Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. As part of her commitment to the Arts Council, she must raise some of her own income through workshops and also find more sponsors to fund other aspects of the project, such as the printing of a journal following the project.
The journal is a celebration of women in traditionally male-dominated professions. It will tell the story of the two different practices (stained glass window making and filmmaking) by two modern females for the ‘Marga & Collections’ stained glass project. ‘Marga’, short for Margaret Agnes Rope (1882-1953) was a British stained glass artist in the Arts and Crafts movement tradition in the early 20th century. ‘Collections’, a reference to the collective memories of Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery and Darwin’s fossils and collections. It is a 21st-century approach to what the Arts and Crafts movement started – a consciousness of the environment as our society develops, keeping in mind the traces we leave behind as memories and collections for future generations.
‘Marga & Collections’ will keep the public informed of the presence of women in film and stained glass trades and will also bring attention to previous exclusions in these industries. Margaret Rope’s achievements were largely neglected in art-history until 64 years after her death, even in her hometown of Shrewsbury where some of her greatest work is still on display. Nathalie, originally from the suburbs of Paris, feels part of the community after living here for 20 years, during this project she has enjoyed sharing her cultural experiences of the town with locals and also wishes to share them with other international visitors, the journal itself is a witness to this.
We hope to reach a wider audience through the publication of the journal, which will make information more easily accessible locally and nationally and will provide inspiration and the desire for training and skills, particularly for young women. We have involved the community through talks, tours, films, and workshops; various debates and in-depth discussions took place between the artist and the community and from this came the structure of the final design, as well as pieces of their work being featured. These moments also provided an opportunity for new filmmaker, Katie Eccleston Bokor, to make use of her skills to promote the project by producing a documentary, also featured in the journal.
As a permanent part of the museum, the window is an ongoing message to all visitors to pay attention to different issues (pollution, the environment, the importance of women) and a reminder that stained glass is still alive and relevant.
It is a rarity to have an Arts Council Grant for a stained glass project (more commonly considered a ‘craft’) that celebrates another female stained glass artist who had debated the theme of Arts and Crafts. The journal will enhance this aspect by allowing us to keep and share records of it. The film was not only submitted to the FIFMA International film festival but would also be promoted as an art form in its own right in the journal publication.
By contributing to the publication of the journal you will be supporting the first choice made by the Arts Council which allows two independent female artists to make a difference and for the community to have an easily accessible, reasonably priced printed publication to keep forever and share with many.
Nathalie Liege of Couleurlive and Katie Eccleston Bokor of KAE Films are both Shrewsbury based artists.
During her time as a Fine Art student in Paris, Joseph Beuys proved a key influence for Nathalie and was the theme of her Fine Arts degree research in 1992. This project is a culmination of 20 years dedicated to keeping her stained glass inspired by both the Arts & Crafts philosophy and Beuys ‘social sculptor’ concept. When Nathalie first started out as a stained glass artist, the first reaction she had from a studio (run by men) was that it was ‘not a trade for women’ and that she shouldn’t even think about it. Now halfway through her career, with this project acting as a turning point, she has more than proved them wrong. Having her work recognised as an art form means she has finally achieved what she has been working towards: 100% artistic freedom.
Katie is a British artist and filmmaker living and working in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. After completing her BA/MA studies at The School of Art, Birmingham in Fine Art at The School of Art, Birmingham (coincidentally the same art school that Marga attended) 2009 to 2015, she developed KAE Films, an independent film and editing service. KAE Films works with artists and on collaborative projects and events, with the aim of engaging the local community and public with the arts.
Both women have strong links to Marga, with Katie attending the same art school and Nathalie following the same profession, moving to and setting up her workshop in the same town as she did. There is an undeniably strong theme of women throughout this project.
The idea of producing a booklet started during a previous project – Nathalie wanted people to understand the meaning and concept behind the window and the various creative processes that went into making it. This booklet will be the second in a series and she hopes to continue making them for future projects with complex back-stories or historical themes. We would like to get the booklet in as many venues in Shropshire and the West Midlands as possible to spread the word about the project and also put Shrewsbury Museum on the map.
2018 will mark the 20-year anniversary of Nathalie’s workshop; to have her work form a permanent part of the museum in the town where she lives and works is the achievement of those years.
Katie hopes to develop KAE Films by working with the public and on a variety of different projects and documentaries. Like Nathalie, Katie wants to use the medium of her trade (film) as a tool for others to understand the importance of 'making' - especially in traditional arts and crafts.
We would need to raise a minimum of £2,000 to cover the printing costs of the booklet, as we want to have the information accessible for everyone. By having a printed version people will be able to hold the booklet in their hands, they will be able to save it and look back on it at any time, something that you cannot always do with online media. The booklet, which could be a collectible item, will be a piece of history in its own right and also a reference for the museum for the future. Like the window, it will remain everlasting and unchanging.
If we exceed our target the amount will be shared equally between Nathalie and Katie to invest in their careers through advertising or with new equipment.