Windows evoke water themes

Published February 1, 2005

Noah releases a dove from the ark in one of seven water-themed windows at the Mission to Seafarers chapel in Hamilton, Ont.

The move of the Mission to Seafarers in 2002 to its new location on the Hamilton Harbour waterfront gave the organization much-needed additional space – and one problem. The chapel had no windows.

Renovations placed the tiny chapel in the middle section of the rented space, completely enclosed by wooden panels. Chaplain Robert Hudson was very disappointed. He believes a chapel should have windows, but what was the point when the view was a hallway on one side and a storage closet on another?

Mr. Hudson, who is also rector of St. Luke’s church, mentioned the problem to parishioner Daniel Norman who was enrolled in the Visual Studies diploma course at the Dundas Valley School of Art. Mr. Norman felt it would be an interesting challenge to design and create a series of stained glass windows. Mr. Hudson conceived of the idea of putting the designs onto Plexiglas panels that could be inserted into the wooded walls. When the chapel is in use, light from the hall and storage closet illuminate the drawings from behind.

Today the Mission’s Chapel of St. Nicholas and St. Michael boasts seven such windows, four designed and drawn by Mr. Norman, and three created by Mr. Hudson.

For inspiration, Mr. Norman concentrated on shipping and water themes from the Bible. “I chose three scenes from the Gospels that focused on water, the sea and sailors, and an Old Testament reference which I thought was appropriate,” he says. The result: Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee, the rescue of Peter, the overflowing and sinking fishing boats, and Noah in the ark.

Of the other three, one has symbols associated with Sts. Nicholas and Michael, the patron saints of seafarers; another shows naval flags spelling out the phrase ” Mission to Seafarers;” the third explains the history of the Mission at Hamilton.

The original sketches were enlarged and placed under the clear Plexiglas panels which measure 90 cm by 120 cm. The pictures were then copied and coloured with stained glass paint by Julie Hudson, Mr. Hudson’s wife.

“The windows attract a lot of positive attention and response,” says Mr. Hudson.

More than 2,000 seafarers visit the mission in Hamilton, on Lake Ontario, about 60 km southwest of Toronto, for both spiritual and social renewal during the Great Lakes shipping season.

Trudi Down is a writer in Hamilton, Ont.


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