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Durham Cathedral stained-glass window commissioned in student’s memory

19 August 2016


Remembered: Sara Pilkington, the subject of a memorial window in Durham Cathedral

Remembered: Sara Pilkington, the subject of a memorial window in Durham Cathedral

A NEW stained-glass window has been commissioned for Durham Cathedral in memory of a student who died suddenly during her final year at the city’s university.

The student, Sara Pilkington, was 21 when she died of a cardiac condition in 2012, as she neared the end of her B.Hons Combined Arts degree course. Her parents, Jonathan and Jools Pilkington, are to fund the window in the cathedral’s north quire aisle.

The artist Mel Howse, who is based in Chichester, West Sussex, has been commissioned to create the piece, which should be installed in 2018. “We are already looking at designs,” she said, “and, as this commission unfolds over the next couple of years, it will be incredibly exciting.

“I am a contemporary designer, and the way in which it is made will be very interesting. There will be something for everybody. If you are creating contemporary art, you have got to think of the future as well as the place you are at. What I am going to be making is full of colour, full of rhythm, and full of spirituality.

“Since I started working on this piece it has become a very personal project for me, and I really feel like I have got to know so much about Sara through the wonderful testimonials from her family and friends. I hope that I will be able to reflect beauty and wisdom through the design of the window, which will be situated close to St Cuthbert’s shrine; a place of such sanctity and calm in the cathedral.”

A number of Ms Howse’s commissions are in churches in southern England, including Winchester University College Chapel, Boxgrove Priory, and Lancing College Chapel. She has also produced glass for a supermarket in Milton Keynes, and a hospital in Portsmouth.

The head of development at Durham Cathedral, Gaye Kirby, said: “The new window will replace one which is in need of repair, bringing with it colour and light to the cathedral’s north quire aisle, and reflecting the joy that Sara brought to those who knew her.

“It will be a beautiful and poignant piece of art which visitors to the cathedral will be able to enjoy and find meaning in for many generations to come.”

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