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Sadie McLellan

Obituary of Sadie McLellan, artist in stained glass; born October 25, 1914; died February 7, 2007. “With the death at 92 of Sadie McLellan, Scotland has lost not only one of its finest artists but a unique, engaging personality.

“In a career spanning some 60 years, Sadie’s work as an artist in stained glass stood out from the pack not only due to its clarity of conception but, in a country where so many careers in the arts are undermined by sycophancy and pettiness, because of its fearless and trenchant independence of thought and action.

“These were the characteristics that so endeared McLellan to the poet Hugh MacDiarmid, who recognised in her a kindred spirit who would never pander to popular taste or sentiment in pursuit of her artistic vision. His poem The Terrible Crystal was dedicated to her in profound admiration.”

“Her two windows in Glasgow Cathedral show her early style at its best. In 1953, she was awarded a significant commission to execute a scheme of 10 windows for the Robin Chapel of the Thistle Foundation in Craigmillar, Edinburgh. Eight depict incidents from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and are some of the most vigorous and imaginative images in twentieth-century Scottish art.”

“Five windows in Cardonald Parish Church and a scheme for St Cadoc’s Church, in Cambuslang, are among the highlights of [her] second period.

“It was McLellan’s courageous pioneering of a new form of architectural stained glass and concrete known as dalles de verre, however, that propelled her in to the forefront of Scottish architectural design. In 1959 she made her first experimental window in this new medium, and, in 1960, completed her first installation, at Alloa Parish Church.

“In 1964 she followed this with an extraordinary window for the restoration of the medieval Abbey of Pluscarden, near Elgin. Its chief feature was a huge oculus depicting the Woman of Revelation and the red Dragon.”

“McLellan never rested on her laurels and had begun developing ideas for a Ronchamp-style scheme in dalles de verre in which the glass and its subject, Christ’s Passion and Crucifixion, would assume a central role in the design of the building. Her efforts bore fruit in 1965 when she collaborated with the rising stars of Scottish architecture, Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan, in the creation of the Church of the Sacred Heart in Cumbernauld.

“In this and subsequent designs, McLellan’s work marked the high water mark of twentieth-century Scottish stained glass.”

Full story at The Herald.

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