This is the image that prompted me to discover one of my favourite artists – Anna Danowska.
Anna is a stained glass artist from Poland and I have her kind and direct permission to post any images taken from her website here (http://annadanowska.pl/) – she is well aware I am a huge fan!
Anna is Polish and still lives there working out of her home studio. Her Mum apparently always painted very beautifully and inspired both Anna and her sister (who is draws). Eventually after being surrounded by art but not knowing what to specialise in Anna discovered the beauty of stained glass – attracted by the way it changes colours through the play of light, the textures of glass and also the beautiful colours. Anna had always thought that stained glass was too difficult and only done by the elite but it seems she persevered and is very home taught (she admits to never having finished a college course).
Anna feels that stained glass is very much ‘glass painting’ and her sheer variety of work certainly speaks of this – she has no set specific style and seems to enjoy a wide variety of subjects even though angels are very much her favourite. Anna feels that she creates images that ‘live own lives’ and this would be an excellent way of describing her skill – the work speaks for itself with its combination of an ancient craft/art and subjects she chooses.
Stained glass was prevalent in the Middle Ages in church buildings and right through to the Renaissance and beyond to modern day – it is a craft that is an art that has survived and developed with different types of glass such as Favrile glass, which the famous artist Louis Comfort Tiffany himself patented, opalescent glass and streamer glass amongst other types. Anna works in the technique known as the Tiffany technique and that involves copper foil wrapped around pieces of glass that have been cut and then soldered along lengths of seams – it is very much from what I can see a technique based on the ancient craft.
Her work can be seen in Poland, France, Germany, Netherlands and Britain as well as the exhibitions she has periodically done. Anna has without done many commissions and the photographs at the end of this piece show the aforesaid variations in her subjects.
It is very obvious that Anna is very much influence by popular culture but also is happy just to do work that she herself likes or that a client requested rather than following a current style – she seems very much a free spirit. I wonder how much she is affected by economic and financial times but if she is her work does not indicate it – or maybe you have to see it in person to see any influences. I note by some of her Chinese style subjects there is a clear interest in Eastern art – one of my favourite pieces is the fan – but also obviously there is interest in movies and people too. As I have already said angels are very much a favourite subject and what I do like is the angels have no facial features … they are very much beings of beauty without almost the distraction of eyes or mouths. There are other images of women that are also featureless and yet others of close ups of faces where she had taken care to ‘paint’ the features expressively.
I do really love the fact that her work is so varied – from lamps, to window decorations, actual windows, ornaments including wonderful large butterflies and most moving all as inserts into gravestones and her subjects vary enormously from people to insects to animals to art and just life itself from the football pitch with an angel watching over to the beach and couples together. Anna captures the transmission of light through colours and textures and literally does paint with glass – many quilters also love what is known as ‘stained glass quilting’ and this is possibly why I love her work so much because stained glass work can translate into textiles and quilting ultimately is building up a design with small cut pieces of fabric. Anna has an expert eye for colour and somehow she does capture the textures of fabric or plants along with a real feeling of movement – all are a testament to a high level of skill.
Do I consider Anna as part of a movement? at the time of writing only in the aspect that she is one of many artists who are choosing ancient crafts and developing them in a modern style.
The following are a selection of images downloaded from Anna’s website with her kind permission showing the variation of her work.
Anna Danowska. 2011. Galeria Witrazu Anny Danowskiej [online]. [Date Accessed: February 2015]. Available from: https://theinquisitivebunny47.wordpress.com/category/research-reflection/page/8/