An appointment with HRH The Princess Royal
Frome’s local glass artist, Phaedra of ‘Phaedra Glass’, was recently invited to attend the official opening of the Tewkesbury Community Hospital where she was to meet and shake hands with the Princess Royal. This personal invitation was specifically in recognition of the glass artwork that Phaedra had produced for the new buildings main waiting room and outside courtyard.
When the Royal commissary Dame Janet Trotter initially paid a visit to the hospital to establish the proceedings of the Royal visit, it is said that she was so captivated by Phaedra’s artwork in the Reception Room that she spent half her time gazing at it before moving on to the rest of the hospital. So impressed by this glass artwork titled the “Tewkesbury Tapestry” that it was on her request that Phaedra should be introduced personally to the Princess Royal on the day of the opening.
“The main waiting room of a hospital can often be a place where visitors may not only have to spend a lot of time, but a place where they may also feel anxious and fretful. Therefore, my aim here was to create an artwork that would be simulating enough to draw the visitor in and to allow them to drift off into another world for a brief while.
The town of Tewkesbury is historically rich, from Saxon times to present day, and on receiving this commission I knew that I had to incorporate this wealth of history into the artwork.
Through a few community workshops I not only learnt a lot of this history, but I also heard personal anecdotes from the older members of the community which gave me a real flavour of the place and of a time gone by. I also learnt about the immense pride and love the townspeople have for their town which in turn motivated me to want to create something that the townspeople could resonate with.
I came up with the concept of the ‘Tewkesbury Tapestry’ in glass, a kind of contemporary take on the tapestries of old. I used the confluence of the two rivers, the Severn and the Avon as the main theme for the artwork. However, here, the rivers and its bubbles become the story tellers of Tewkesbury, meandering through its long history, and to set the scene for the backdrop of the tapestry I used the two rambling roses from the ‘Wars of the Roses’ (one red and one white) which finally became the Tudor Rose.
This artwork is full of information and visually busy which I hope will keep the visitors occupied and distracted enough whilst spending their time in the waiting room. The research and design for this piece was very time consuming, but the more I learnt, the more connection I felt with the place and its people, and the more enjoyable the whole project became.”
Julie Ellery – Matron of Tewkesbury Hospital:
“The art work provided by Phaedra glass is much admired by all that visit us at Tewkesbury and we are so pleased with it. The patients anxiously waiting for appointments love to study it and it is a great soothing distraction. It is a beautiful representation of all our history captured in a very unique way. It is so important that NHS art work doesn’t become a ‘typical standard ‘ that could be represented anywhere. Phaedra has captured all our thoughts that were in the initial planning meetings and exceeded our expectations. Thanks.”
Further endorsement came from the Reverend Canon Paul Williams of Tewkesbury Abbey who personally blessed the glass artwork prior to the official opening and praised Phaedra’s work.
However, it doesn’t stop there for Phaedra! She is quickly moving on to her next big public art project. It just so happened that the Interpretation Developer of Whipsnade Zoo, whilst visiting one of Frome’s wonderful markets, spotted Phaedra’s glass butterfly wing sculpture in her gallery window “OWL”.
So impressed by this piece of work, she immediately contacted Phaedra with a commission proposal for a large pair of Morpho Butterfly wings for the new Tropical Butterfly Centre of Whipsnade Zoo. This heralds the Phaedra Glass business moving further into large-scale private and public commissions for these beautiful wing sculptures and bespoke architectural wall installations. Busy times ahead for Frome’s glass artist.
Photos of Princess Royal by kind permission of Jack Boskett Photography
Tel: 01684 274264