“Wings of Faith” – The Glass Screen installed during April 2016
Created and Designed by Mel Howse
From the beginning of this project at St Michael’s we aimed to create meaningful and spiritual architectural art that is interactive with the fabric of the ancient building that is its custodian. This is a semi abstract work whose theme is symbolic of St Michael the Archangel. The wings of St Michael are ‘revealed’ as one approaches the screen.
The design is formed from low relief and in levels of opacity in glass. This allows for the art to feel visually suspended in the generous space between the bespoke oak doors, and the graceful beamed roof where the glass visually disappears.
The only visually static point of the design is St Michael’s sword of justice, with a hilt that is not so far from being the Cross. Descending and ascending around the sword are beating wings whose carved feathered forms span out – becoming transformed into a reverberating choir of trumpets. This repetitive musical field is descriptive of the echoing sound of St Michael’s last trumpet. The last trumpet stands tall and proud to the right of the sword.
The rhythmic flow of the etched design chimes with the location of the new choir vestry created by the screen – responding to this area of the church as a musical hub, with the organ case being another artful installation. The commission took place over a period of two years, and encompassed an extensive period of design development and sample making. I got to know the project well, and felt engaged with the architecture and atmosphere of St Michael’s. I worked closely with the church family at St Michael’s and we shared views with each other and the wider church community about the way the final work would look and feel.
The installed art of the Betchworth Screen is now ever present. It is a contemporary feature with the sensitivity not to overpower the building fabric or the spiritual atmosphere of the Church.” Mel Howse.