Ehemalige Synagoge - Hirschberg
This is a lovely project that I made for this former synagogue in the village of Hirschberg, which is quite near Heidelberg.
The building is now a culture centre and used for all sorts of cultural events.
A great deal of care was taken over the restoration of the building.
The word Ehemalige means former.
Being for a former synagogue in Hirschberg - Leuternhausen, near Heidelberg in Germany, obviously, this project had to be treated with even more than the usual sensitivity to the building.
I was asked to create designs the 2 windows and to seek approval from the committee who were now in charge of the building. The building had not been used as a synagogue since the second World War and had been in a very sad state of repair and with many of the original features discarded.
By the time I saw the building, the restoration was nearing completion and the two circular windows for the East and West facades of the building were to mark the completion of this restoration and change of use.
I was left a free hand to decide in which direction I would take the designs.
I decided that an abstract concept would be best for this building.I have been working on a concept for designing abstract works which I have called “controlled spontaneity and I used this process to select the image shown here. This image, for me,
has a layered quality that has a feeling of compression building to a darkness at the centre. This window was to represent the past and as you sit within the building this window is behind you.
I wanted to make a direct reference to the former and purpose and use of the building as a synagogue without making a window for an active synagogue.
I therefore wanted to use a symbol that would be identifiable but would not dominate.
The obvious symbol is the Star of David set within a circle. This is an device I have used before in the Sabbath Window for Queen‘s Park Synagogue in Glasgow where the Star was the steel construction frame for the window. I selected an abstract composition which seemed appropriate in terms of scale and composition to this location. It shows to and onto this I placed the Star within a circular border.
Then came a decision that makes this work special and unique. Instead of making the star a lead-line which would read black, I made it a white line that would fade in and out the design creating a there and not there effect, like a memory. This was exactly the quality I wanted to achieve. The colours I selected for this window, I wanted to have an old fashioned feel therefore the pinks and greens and lilacs.
The composition for the window for the East Facade took longer to develop. I used the same technique to create this image. I wanted to have the feeling of something opening and the darkness dissolving, and a lightness at the centre.
A way forward. The colours are more positive and exciting, the composition is very tense and dynamic which is the quality I was seeking.
I toyed with the idea of including some kind of symbol in this composition, but found that it would have been inappropriate and unnecessary.
When the project finally did come to life, I then had to decide how this project would be made.
I began in my usual method of drawing a large scale version of the design. Although I found the drawings I was making exciting and stimulating, I was not seeing the spontaneity and freshness that is indicated in the designs. The designs were created using a random principle over which my only real control was the colours selected. I wanted to find some of this directness in the handling of the glass. I experimented for around four weeks trying various methods of applying various acid resists until I saw the qualities that I wanted.
In each of the windows, the surface of the glass has been extensively and repeatedly etched. There is no application of paint or enamels to enhance the colour, only the use of traditional black glasspainting.