Saturday, 22 January 2011

The Church at Otane

The Church of St James The Apostle was consecrated an Anglican Church on 21st January 1894.   Although I can find no references to dates on the internet the last Vicar of Otane ceased to hold that office in 1982.  The church is now an inter-denominational church (which seems quite common in rural New Zealand).  The church is attractive and appears to be well looked after and the  attractive but unremarkable stained glass window's provenance is recounted inside.  However what struck me was the window at the opposite end of the church which I thought was one of the most beautiful windows I have ever seen in a church.

Unfortunately it was difficult to photograph and describing it is even more difficult.  By using the tress outside for contrast the content of the window appears.  The pattern is shown by raised material which appears to have been applied to the glass in the way one would apply something like building sealant!  The opaque areas may have been acid etched.  I shall have to do some homework on this one.  In the meantime I thought I'd share it with you.  If anyone does know the process used I should be glad to hear.


  1. What a truly lovely place; and your photos are fantastic!

    GB, I hope you do not mind. I have just awarded you the "Stylish Blogger Award" at

    It is rendered with true respect and admiration for your blog.

  2. Funny thing........I don't actually attend a church or speak to any particular god, but I absolutely love churches and many religious artworks/designs.
    I studied Renaissance art at textbooks from these papers are still on my bookshelf and are my favourites.
    You would enjoy many of the church windows in France Ooooh I can't wait to travel again. you've given me the itch................and all over a beautiful little NZ church!!!!

  3. boromax: OK you've given me something - possibly a lot - to look at. That's something I'll do in the next few hours.

    Jaz: Like you I no longer attend a church and, in my case, I lost my faith some years ago. To have studied art... I studied public administration, business administration and law. No contest there if I was starting again! I have been in and absorbed and photographed churches in the UK, Italy, France and where ever I've happened to be. I have been awestruck. I have been overwhelmed and cried my eyes out (Rheims Cathedral springs to mind). But after all that, I am still capable of being surprised and moved by the unexpected beauty and simplicity which can be found in some of our old rural churches in New Zealand.

  4. I too love churches and church architecture.
    Looks as if this magnificent window has been masked and grit blasted.

  5. It looks like a nice little church and that window is remarkable, I'm not sure I've seen anything quite like it. I do think we find some of the most beautiful art (and architecture) in churches because often the artists have really poured their "soul" into it. Whether it's a big cathedral or just a small simple country church...

  6. WOW! From the outside, the church looks so unassuming. I almost gasped when I scolled down the pictures. The windows are amazing!

  7. Adrian: That technique would explain the 'clouded' bits but it's the raised bits (like a continuous white leadlighting) that really puzzles me.

    Monica: I agree that the artists/architects' souls and often a lot more went into the great and small religious edifices of the world.

    Lisa: Lots of NZ's churches surprise one with their simple exterior and beautiful interiors.

  8. Oh, this window! Graham, it is beautiful.

  9. Wow - I can understand why you were so impressed with that window. We forget how impressive the lack of colour can sometimes be.

  10. Very nice windows!

    The windows have actuslly been sandblasted / etched. The artist took clear window pane; covered the glass with a heavy contact paper - (vynil that is sticky on the back). That material is called resist because it resists the effects of sandblasting. The artist then cut the pattern by hand with an Exacto knife. They cut the entire pattern at one time. Then the artist pulled off the resist from the deep areas first. The lines that you referred to as white lead lines are actually sandblasted deeper than the other areas. The artist sandblasted the deeper lines first, then they pulled off the middle tone areas and sandblasted that area. Last they pulled the resist off the light areas and sandblasted those areas. The clear areas were not sandblasted. In the photo with the trees, the clear areas read as the dark tones -- where the trees are visible. It is not an easy process. It is difficult to photograph. The best way is to put a black cloth behind the window, which obviously was not possible on site. I have some photos of this type work on my website at:

    Laura Goff Parham
    State of the Art, Inc.
    Stained Glass Studio