Master of his domain

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When most people think of stained glass windows, they think of religious scenes featured in churches or cathedrals.

This skilful art form, which is more than 1000 years old, has experienced a number of revivals — across Europe, the United States and Britain.

The popularity of the medium is growing worldwide and, in Australia, master craftsman Kim Fitzpatrick and his team of eight artists are using their talents to capture farming scenes and nature for future generations to enjoy.

Work by the group, Tradition Stained Glass, can be found in Parliament House, stately homes in Perth and local government libraries, as well as overseas in Dubai, Singapore and Macau.

A decade ago, to celebrate the opening of its new council office, the Merredin shire commissioned a piece to reflect the region’s farming links, which at the time were focused on wheat, sheep and the railway.

Today, the town still has a strong link to farming, but it is also forging ahead with mining and a wind farm, due to be built next year. The stained glass window will serve as a reminder of the region’s heritage.

Recently, the Stapleton family in Kojonup, with input from local priest Father Attilla, commissioned a piece for the St Mary’s Anglican Church to commemorate the memory and faith of their parents, Charles and Joyce.

The picture shows the Good Shepherd with sheep, which is fitting for Kojonup, since it was the first shire with a million sheep. The scene also depicts the harvest festival.

The aim was to highlight the local grain, wool and wine industry, and it took four months of painstaking work in Mr Fitzpatrick’s North Fremantle studio.

Each piece of glass had to be handpainted and hand cut, using skills that had been passed down from Mr Fitzpatrick’s great-grandfather, who lived in Holland.

Mr Fitzpatrick said once a client has agreed on a design, glass pieces were cut individually by hand with the details on each piece of glass handpainted on.

The glass then goes into a kiln at 660°C to bake the paint into the glass up to three times, for four to five hours.

“There is a lot of work involved, but I look forward to the challenge of design. With our work, it can be there forever, ” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

“Always strive for excellence, creativity and craftsmanship — that’s our slogan.”

It’s not just rural scenes that Mr Fitzpatrick and his team develop.

They have designed and produced designs depicting Chinese folklore, including dragons, lions and tigers, as well as scenes from the Pilbara, including the Sturt’s Dessert Pea, gum trees and rock formations.

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