From romantic images of British architecture, to the windows of the new Coventry Cathedral, this lecture explores the work of John Piper – one of Britain’s most versatile 20th century artists.
An abstract painter in the 1930s, John Piper was also a writer, critic and typographer and his love of architecture – especially medieval churches and stained glass – made him a highly sensitive observer of his surroundings. During the Second World War he became one of the best known Official War Artists, creating powerful images of the destruction of Coventry Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and of the city of Bath, as well as recording a wide range of buildings, from derelict Welsh cottages to the grandeur of Windsor Castle.
Piper’s friendships with figures from the worlds of literature, ballet and music led him in further creative directions. He worked on the Shell Guides to Britain with his close friend, John Betjeman and designed sets and costumes for the operas of Benjamin Britten. In his fifties he began to design stained glass, creating monumentally beautiful windows for the new Coventry Cathedral and the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool, as well as tiny, jewel-like lunettes for country churches near his home in Buckinghamshire. Piper’s love of architecture and landscape informed all his work, and in this lecture we’ll explore the many ways in which his interests and enthusiasms led to prolific creativity.