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A Chance Missed
on 23 September 2010
While it is great to have a book on Harry Clarke's stained glass work, I am a little disappointed with it. Firstly, in covering all the work ascribed to Clarke (glass he worked on himself, glass he worked on part of, and glass which he designed but was produced by the Clarke Studios) the authors have given equal weight to each category. To me, the essence of Clarke's work is that which he designed and worked on himself. I would rather have had a book solely on this, but in greater detail. As it is, of the wholly Clarke windows, we get a picture of the entire window accompanied by one of an enlarged area of detail. These enlarged areas are superb, and really show off his glass to its best advantage; it's a shame there are not more of them. Occasionally, there isn't even one of the whole window (e.g. The Annunciation in Ashdown).
Secondly, I'm not sure that gazetteer approach was the correct one. I can understand that people would like to know which churches are adjacent to each other, but that could have been achieved with a simple map. I would far rather have had a chronological treatment, following Clarke's development through his wholly produced windows, then the windows he partly contributed to, and finally the windows where he was not involved at all, apart from the design.
Thirdly, the photo editing leaves a lot to be desired. Some photos have been stretched horizontally, rather than proportionally, giving a rather grotesque look to some of the images (elliptical haloes rather than circular). I can only think this was done by some over-enthusiastic designer stretching them to fit a layout grid. The choice of some of the `enlargements' too is strange, with several only fractionally bigger than the main picture. It is also a shame that the picture of the whole glorious Eve of St Agnes window comes right at the back of the book, after the index and could easily be missed.
I feel this could have been a better book if a little more care had been taken.