Colouring Light: Brian Clarke - An Artist Apart


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Colouring Light: Brian Clarke - An Artist Apart

Documentary profile of painter Brian Clarke, one of the world's greatest stained glass artists and a man who has collaborated with some of the world's leading architects.


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This programme contains some strong language.

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When you have had a moment

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that brings what mystics might call a beatitude,

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when you are suddenly

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and unexpectedly given access

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to an experience that alters your view of the world,

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it gives you a taste of freedom,

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of freedom of thought.

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I had such a moment as a child in York Minster.

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I had a moment where I felt the combination

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of architecture

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and light

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and art

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could give you a glimpse into paradise.

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They're not frequent, such experiences,

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but by constantly producing art day after day in a routine,

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you are always trying to get close...

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..to that experience again.

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Brian Clarke is a Renaissance man.

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His interests range far and wide.

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Steeped in tradition, he's also passionate about seeking new ways of making art.

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He draws, paints and designs spectacular stained glass.

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His work can be seen all over the world

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in churches, mosques and synagogues,

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private homes, hospitals and corporate headquarters.

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He has continued over the years to reinvent a medium he has made wholly his own.

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APPLAUSE

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My interests are undoubtedly architectural, but I am an artist.

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I'm not an architect. I don't aspire to being an architect.

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I remember Cedric Price introducing me

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as "a person who colours in the holes that architects leave in their walls".

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He's about right. That's more or less what I do.

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What motivates me is the big idea behind architecture.

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It's really architecture as a cradle for

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and trigger for artistic experience, poetic experience that I'm about.

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This is actually the Victoria Quarter in Leeds,

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an urban city street

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designed by that great Edwardian, theatrical architect Frank Matcham.

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My commission actually was to design the stained-glass window

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for this lower thing here at each end of the street.

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And I suggested they cover the street with glazing

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and I put a skin of colour across it.

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If I am doing a big project, I take in all the clues

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that the architect would take in about the location.

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You think about the movement of people and the passage of light through it,

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about the function of the building, the time of day it will be used, how many people will be using it

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and essentially, in a public experience,

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you want to provide a sensation that uplifts the spirits.

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And I feel naturally inclined to optimism when I'm working in public buildings.

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Some of his great works are those great arcades.

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They're wonderful things, brilliant use of the space,

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and he's sensitive to the historical context,

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yet being modern and uncompromising in his way.

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There always is this duality between order and chaos in Brian's work.

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The grid and the free line, the geometry of the grid

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and the free and maybe nervous line...

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There's a nervous kind of energy and enthusiasm and it's an absolute reflection of him as a person.

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It's his life in a way.

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This is the Shard going up in London. I think it's going to be the tallest building in Europe.

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I've been asked to do something between the two buildings of this development by Renzo Piano

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and that's the entrance to London Bridge station,

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so there'll be huge pedestrian traffic crossing this space all day long,

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and it's got to be something I felt that kept the language of the Shard.

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So I thought of the idea...

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At first it seemed like a silly idea, perhaps rather banal,

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but I've grown rather fond of the concept

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and that is the idea that just some shards of glass from the top of the structure,

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as if they had fallen down and just penetrated the, uh...ground level.

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I'll take this guy from here and put him here.

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Actually, it's Mr Gandhi. I don't know what he's doing there.

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As Mahatma makes his way through this space,

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by day, you'll get this kind of sunlight passing through it,

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and by night, lit from within,

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it will glow and be visible from all the viewing corridors

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as you approach London Bridge station.

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It will be like a cathedral of colour.

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Clarke's considerable earnings from large-scale commissions have supported his work

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as a painter and cutting-edge stained glass artist

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and allowed him to remain a fiercely independent artist.

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I realised very early on in the game that...

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..however beguiling and beautiful and transcendentally enriching to one's life stained glass is,

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without the nourishment of...

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and discipline of painting and drawing,

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it became purely decorative.

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He does really beautiful drawings

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and not many people have that incredible control of the hand.

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I've always liked his glasswork

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and they could be quite abstract, they're very varied,

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but the quality of the hand is always there and it's stunning.

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It's always been so important for him to never have stopped painting.

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Even at his most successful, busy, whichever way you want to put it,

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his time as a stained glass artist when he was involved with huge projects on a pretty constant basis,

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he was still always painting.

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He... And this has confounded many of his critics, I think.

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He's been always almost equally a painter and a stained glass artist.

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He never would have put stained glass on a lower level than painting

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and vice-versa, of course.

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What's the name of the place we're going to?

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Clarksfield Road and I know it's that way.

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My mum and dad were married at this church.

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Yeah, this is the house I lived in where these people are.

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That was my old house - number 103.

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Hello. Sorry to disturb you.

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I used to live here when I was a little boy.

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Oh, yeah, I think I put those tiles up.

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-You didn't?

-I think I did.

-LAUGHTER

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There was a wall here and we used to kill mice with the handle of a screwdriver.

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There was a range here.

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-Everything's changed here now.

-Yeah, yeah.

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-I used to live here when I was your age.

-No?

-Yeah, I did.

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My mum was born in 1919 and she was one of eight sisters,

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two of whom survive her,

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and they all worked in the cotton mills in Lancashire. One brother.

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My dad was particularly good at marquetry.

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I suppose it's a little bit like stained glass.

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You split tonally up the colours by using veneers of different woods.

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It's like making a collage

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and I very much enjoyed doing those things with him.

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And it's the first memory I have of the creative process.

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He died...very young.

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You know, the emphysema from coal mining

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and...60 or 80 Woodbines a day

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didn't help him with longevity.

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I was young when he died. I was with him.

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And it had a deep impact on me.

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I hadn't realised really how close I was to him.

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I came out of what sociologists would call an extended matriarchal, working-class family.

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Doris, Mary and Anne remained unmarried and so they lived together with my grandmother.

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And so I was fussed around by a lot of aunties and females.

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And thoroughly enjoyed it.

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-What was he like as a lad?

-Pardon?

-What was Brian like as a lad?

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-What was he like?

-Yes.

-Well, he was always joking,

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acting the fool, you know.

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When he were 14, we took him away on holiday, me and our Doris, to Majorca.

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That's me and our Brian in Majorca.

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We came back to the hotel and there was a lady behind the bar and he went to the bar.

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We didn't know what he'd gone for. Then she came back to us. She said,

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"Do you know he's ordered a bottle of champagne for you?

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"But I don't know what to do." He were only 14.

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I said, "If he's ordered it, he'll pay for it. It'll be all right."

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He did, he ordered it. Because we took him, he were buying us champagne as a thank you.

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It were lovely, that.

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Every time we went anywhere with taxis

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and he wanted to tip the driver, he wanted to pay...

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He wanted to pay, so he could tip the driver.

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-You always wanted to be the big man, didn't you?

-Yeah.

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We've all been very close, all the family, and we've all loved each other and been kind to each other.

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That's as it should be, isn't it?

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-We've always been close, Brian.

-What, us?

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LAUGHTER

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My grandmother was a medium

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and spiritualism was the background to my childhood.

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And I rather liked this magical, alchemical, weird thing

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that she brought in to my humdrum life.

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You know, she claimed to be able to see into the future.

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I was deeply excited by the idea of life after death.

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And so the whole spiritualism thing took a hold of me.

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I was trained as a teenager in spiritualism,

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but a point came when I had to make a choice -

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do I continue this interest in spiritualism

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or do I go for the really high level game of mediumship which is being an artist?

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I had already committed myself as a child of ten to wanting to be an artist.

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I had a romantic idea that art happened in Paris, that Picasso equated to art

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and I would do whatever I could to get there.

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At the age of 12, that included robbing a gas meter

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and using the shillings to buy a ticket to Paris at Oldham West railway station.

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The ticket collector smelling a rat, seeing all these shilling coins, called the police,

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I never got to Paris, but I did later on get to Oldham Art School.

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Clarke was something of a prodigy.

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He was able to concentrate on art from the age of 12

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as he'd won a scholarship to the Oldham School of Arts and Crafts,

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one of a number of specialist schools that had been set up by philanthropists in northern England.

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This half of the building was the School of Art.

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And this is the room...

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This was kind of our classroom, I suppose.

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And that's where we drew.

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I had a really great education in the arts.

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I learned how to draw analytically, heraldry, book-binding,

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calligraphy, sign-writing, pigment mixing.

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It was a very broad and old-fashioned arts and crafts education.

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There used to be an old guy sitting here.

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I think he was called Alf.

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I couldn't get enough. I used to sleep in the art school.

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I used to hide and sleep in the school, so that I could work at night.

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Look, here it is. "Devoted to the moral and intellectual culture of the inhabitants of Oldham."

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The architect was Pennington. "School of Science and Art."

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Living in Oldham was undeniably grim.

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But it had something that transcended industrial Lancashire

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and that was the architecture of the cotton mills. They were majestic.

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You see, in any direction, you could look out and see those mills.

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The town centre is on a hill

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and you could look out and see these great, horizontal red buildings

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with masses of windows,

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then they usually had a rather smart or swanky tower with the mill name on it

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and then a tall chimney.

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The art school education I got in Oldham

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prepared me for life as an artist

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and prepared me for an understanding

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that there is a great deal more to life than...

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..materialistic issues

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and that there can be poetry come out of even the darkest, grimmest mill town.

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From Oldham, Clarke moved to Burnley School of Art.

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It was here that he met Liz Finch.

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She was soon to become an essential influence on his development as an artist.

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When I first met him, I think I must have been 17

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because I think he lied to get into college about his age, and he was 15, I think.

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He was really serious and quiet

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and he didn't sort of hang out or go to pubs and things,

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but he used to do a lot of work.

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It was the late '60s, so art students always had long hair and he had short hair.

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And he wore a shirt and tie.

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Then he did grow long hair eventually.

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Liz's father was a vicar with a particular enthusiasm for stained glass.

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He had a stained-glass window installed in his church

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by an artist from York called Harry Harvey.

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And whilst it wasn't... my cup of tea,

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I realised through that

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that the medium might have a place

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in my world,

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in my dual interests - art and architecture.

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Clarke and Liz Finch enrolled on the Stained Glass course at North Devon College in Bideford.

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They married in 1972.

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Later, they moved to Preston where Clarke started to work as a stained glass artist,

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making his early work with his own hands

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and receiving commissions from local churches and private clients.

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His first major breakthrough, at the age of 19, came at a church in Lancashire.

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Longridge was a whole series of windows on the upper gallery of the church

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that had particularly good light

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because there was nothing interrupting the light

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on either the north or the south walls of the church.

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And it was the first time anybody had asked me to do a suite of windows,

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rather than an individual thing.

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There wasn't any stained glass in those days that used such big sheets of colour.

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I'd based the thing on the kind of green and blue of those wonderful hills and reservoirs

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that exist around that part of Lancashire.

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It was really just a very youthful, joyous...

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..celebration of the medium in a building.

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I think that was the first time

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I really knew

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that I wanted to alter the building,

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I wanted to make a contribution to the building as a whole.

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I got a few other opportunities in Lancashire

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and by the time I'd done three projects where I'd done all the windows,

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my hunger for architectural experience and scale

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knew no limits.

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At the age of 20, Clarke won a prestigious Churchill Fellowship

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that allowed him to travel in Europe and the USA.

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This time broadened his sense of what an artist could bring to stained glass.

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Matisse did something that was really quite unique.

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He created the illusion

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that there are three layers of activity going on -

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a base field, a secondary layer of ornament

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and then another layer of ornament on top of that.

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But I would place Schreiter as the greatest designer

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of stained glass in the 20th century.

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He was for me the man who most consequentially and compellingly

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liberated lead from being the structural means of holding pieces of glass together

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to being in itself an independent means of expression.

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I used to love it.

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I used to so love it here.

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This vicarage became vacant.

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And I went to see the local diocesan authorities.

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I kind of told them that it was essential that they support me

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because the stained glass was about to evaporate

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and I was its only hope.

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And, uh...they bought it.

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That was my studio and that's where I painted.

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And Liz's studio was the room with all the ivy round it there.

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It was a very strange time.

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It was only four years, but you always used to feel that time had stood still,

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so when you went out, it was a bit sort of scary

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like you were in a huge dome of time or something.

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I was once having a meeting in that room with a bishop from Nottingham

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and three other leading clergymen.

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And Liz thought it was far too formal.

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She had a doll and she tied a rope to its foot

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and swung it in front of the window, just out of the window above.

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The clergymen didn't actually say anything,

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but you could see that they had just seen a baby swinging by its leg...pass the window.

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Liz kind of ruled it here really with her freaky stuff.

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Liz was then and is now without any guile or affectation

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absolutely an artist.

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If you're exposed to that at an intense level, it rubs off.

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And I think Liz gave me tremendous confidence to be who I am

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because that was who she was and I loved who she was.

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He was and still is in total admiration of her very strange and wonderful mind.

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He's always seen her as a kind of natural piece of Dada art,

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as a Dadaist sort of incarnate as a human being.

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If she thought Brian was getting big for his boots,

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she could pierce pretentiousness better than anyone.

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During his years in the Peak District, Clarke painted and continued to design stained glass.

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Birchover may have been very remote,

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but Clarke's ambitions ranged further afield.

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Driven by an unstoppable sense of his own destiny

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and an instinct for the right openings, he began making contacts in London and beyond,

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carefully laying the ground for an attack on the art world.

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His reputation grew remarkably fast.

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MUSIC: "Anarchy In The UK" - Sex Pistols

0:25:480:25:51

# Right now... #

0:25:510:25:54

In 1976, punk rock happened and he very much identified with all of that.

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# I am an anti-Christ

0:26:000:26:03

# And I am an anarchist

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# Don't know what I want, but I know how to get it

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# I wanna destroy the passer-by

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# Cos I wanna be

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# Anarchy

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# No dogsbody... #

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Brian Clarke's meteoric rise, fuelled by punk energy, took London by storm.

0:26:280:26:33

He worked with trendy dealer Robert Fraser

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who introduced him to art lovers from the world of rock'n'roll.

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He also walked into the offices of the BBC

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and sweet-talked them into making a film about the super-charged launch of his brilliant career.

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His supreme confidence was a striking characteristic

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and he had detractors precisely because of that.

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I remember we did an exhibition of stained glass in London in 1978

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and he gave a talk to a large and quite sort of distinguished audience in that

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and he was a bit more like a rock star giving it.

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But what he said was still very articulate.

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He adapted very well to the social thing.

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It was like he'd found his element really.

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He did hang out with a lot of celebrities.

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I think that there is a thing among celebrities,

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an insecurity that they like to hang out with each other.

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He was certainly a bad boy,

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irreverent, let's say.

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I think he managed to shock the clergy more than once.

0:27:500:27:54

He did two wonderful designs for Derby Cathedral.

0:27:540:27:59

You can imagine for someone of 22, 23,

0:27:590:28:01

two huge windows in a classical cathedral by the architect James Gibbs

0:28:010:28:06

of whom Brian was and still is a huge admirer...

0:28:060:28:10

He put everything into it, then the cathedral's advisory committee intervened.

0:28:100:28:16

They expressed great admiration for his designs, but wanted him to modify his colours.

0:28:160:28:21

His rather terse reply to them, it was two words, effectively ended his relationship with the church.

0:28:210:28:28

-Words that I can guess?

-The words you can guess.

0:28:280:28:32

I saw the postcard, so I know it's true.

0:28:330:28:36

I lose more commissions than I do.

0:28:370:28:40

I mean, for every one I do, there are two that I don't do.

0:28:400:28:45

I'm often told by people that I ought to compromise,

0:28:450:28:48

that these days, you can't afford to refuse commissions, you can't afford to upset people.

0:28:480:28:54

I think that you can't afford to compromise.

0:28:540:28:58

If you're making a statement artistically,

0:28:580:29:02

when you're making that statement, as far as you're concerned, it's an absolute.

0:29:020:29:08

And any variation

0:29:080:29:11

or dilution

0:29:110:29:13

or subtraction from an absolute

0:29:130:29:17

makes it less than absolute and therefore makes it untrue and, by definition, a lie.

0:29:170:29:23

And I am not a perpetrator of visual lies.

0:29:230:29:27

It became very clear quite early on in the game

0:29:270:29:31

that, on the one hand,

0:29:310:29:35

the church was the traditional cradle of the medium,

0:29:360:29:41

but on the other hand we were becoming increasingly a secular society.

0:29:410:29:48

And if stained glass had any hope of continuance,

0:29:490:29:53

and I had any hope of continuing using the medium and responding to its challenges,

0:29:530:30:00

then I had to focus my activities

0:30:000:30:04

on secular buildings.

0:30:040:30:06

Over the next 20 or so years, Brian Clarke took on a series

0:30:070:30:12

of increasingly ambitious stained glass commissions in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Brazil and the USA.

0:30:120:30:18

I began to work with a whole group of very interesting architects

0:30:250:30:30

and here's a project Arata Isozaki and I did in Tokyo -

0:30:300:30:34

the Lake Sagami building, which is, essentially, in the plan, like a Gothic church

0:30:340:30:40

with a considerable nave and choir

0:30:400:30:44

and what would have been a central bell tower. We turned this tower

0:30:440:30:49

into something that could glow at night.

0:30:490:30:53

This is the headquarters of Pfizer in New York.

0:30:540:30:59

As Pfizer are a pharmaceutical firm, I included

0:30:590:31:03

all kinds of things from microscopic explorations into the nature of health.

0:31:030:31:09

When it was installed, the Chief Executive and Chairman and board came to their first viewing

0:31:100:31:18

and were very happy with the sheer decorative beauty of these forms,

0:31:180:31:23

made in a medieval way, etched glass, very complex,

0:31:230:31:26

made in exactly the same way as glass at Chartres or Canterbury.

0:31:260:31:31

I think it took them slightly aback when I explained that they are all HIV cells from healthy cells,

0:31:310:31:37

and as you walk from the lobby into the main hall, you move from HIV to terminal cancer.

0:31:370:31:44

LAUGHTER

0:31:440:31:46

'There are certain people that I would not work for.'

0:31:470:31:52

Quite often, I see clients as the enemy. I think a lot of architects do

0:31:520:31:57

and a lot of artists do. It's not uncommon because it's a battle to get...

0:31:570:32:03

You would think that they would want the best quality they could get,

0:32:040:32:08

but what they usually want is something median, something average, something banal

0:32:080:32:14

something they've seen before.

0:32:140:32:17

This is where stained glass started to influence the painting instead of the other way round.

0:32:170:32:23

My paintings took the lead from discoveries made in the glass.

0:32:230:32:27

The lines of white being negative version of a black lead line.

0:32:270:32:32

And, of course, the window, the cross contained within a square,

0:32:320:32:36

a simple sash window frame, becoming a symbol for what I think art is about.

0:32:360:32:42

It's my suggestion that art opens a window onto an alternative reality.

0:32:420:32:49

And I think that so long as artists stand as the alternative,

0:32:490:32:54

no matter what that means and costs, we have a role and a function to fulfil.

0:32:540:32:59

The stained glass, the drawing and the painting, there is no distinction to be made.

0:33:260:33:32

It's a symbiotic thing. They're all mutually beneficial. They do inform one another entirely.

0:33:320:33:38

And the one partly depends on the other, grows from the other.

0:33:380:33:43

The seemingly random linear element, the line that wanders through and breaks,

0:33:430:33:49

that certainly appears in his paintings, but I suspect

0:33:490:33:53

because it came from the language originally of the lead line in stained glass,

0:33:530:33:59

I suspect it originated there.

0:33:590:34:01

I'm sorry. I've lost my fucking glasses again. Can you try in my jacket pocket upstairs?

0:35:230:35:30

-Not there.

-No?

0:35:320:35:35

Downstairs in the plan chest room?

0:35:350:35:38

I despair at my memory.

0:35:400:35:43

Amanda bought me a string to put round my neck, but I felt like Marje Proops.

0:35:430:35:49

-I'm going to have to be dealt with. Know what we should do with them?

-Destroy them.

-No, I want new lenses.

0:35:490:35:56

-But I am buggered if I don't have a pair of specs.

-You mean these?

-Ohhh!

0:35:570:36:03

You know what you're going to get for that?

0:36:030:36:07

Ahhh!

0:36:080:36:10

This is going all terribly wrong.

0:36:160:36:18

This always happens with the Christmas cards. It is sent to be my annual torment.

0:36:190:36:25

You can't say Lord Richard Rogers. It's Lord Rogers or Richard Rogers.

0:36:250:36:29

That's like what an American would say.

0:36:290:36:33

Can you get my pen? I think I took it back downstairs.

0:36:330:36:36

Thank you. ..Larry Inginor.

0:36:370:36:41

The McCartneys are legion! They go on forever, don't they?

0:36:410:36:46

Has Dennis got two Ns in it?

0:36:460:36:49

# Nightclubbing

0:36:490:36:51

# We're nightclubbing

0:36:510:36:55

-# We're what's happening... #

-Listen, these people are all very nice,

0:36:550:37:01

-but...

-You want me to sign them?

-That's what I'm doing.

0:37:010:37:04

You have to make sure these go in the right ones. I've written, "Sod off!" to Andy.

0:37:040:37:10

It wouldn't be very nice if that went to...

0:37:100:37:13

# New people They're something to see... #

0:37:130:37:18

Oh, I feel like Saint Sebastian.

0:37:200:37:23

There was certainly a period of...20 years

0:37:250:37:30

when I never even responded to an inquiry to do something in a church.

0:37:300:37:37

But I did do a huge mosque in Saudi Arabia and a number of synagogues, but not any churches.

0:37:370:37:44

And then the one at Romont came up.

0:37:440:37:48

TRANSLATED FROM GERMAN:

0:37:560:38:00

When I went to visit it,

0:38:430:38:46

I went really, to be honest, with the intention of politely getting out of it.

0:38:460:38:52

At that time I'd been spending a lot of time with art dealers in New York

0:38:540:39:00

and...they're not a savoury bunch, particularly.

0:39:000:39:04

And...

0:39:040:39:06

..when I was with the nuns,

0:39:060:39:10

the dignity

0:39:120:39:14

of those people

0:39:150:39:18

and the dignity that resonated in this 1,000-year-old abbey

0:39:190:39:26

touched me.

0:39:280:39:30

It wasn't intellectual, it wasn't, "Oh, this is interesting. I can do this. I can do that."

0:39:300:39:37

I was moved.

0:39:370:39:39

READS IN FRENCH

0:39:390:39:41

TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH:

0:40:050:40:08

During the past 20 or so years, most of Clarke's stained glass has been manufactured in collaboration

0:41:430:41:50

with Mayers of Munich, a family firm that goes back for four generations,

0:41:500:41:54

who have supported Clarke in his move from traditional mouth-blown glass to radically new techniques.

0:41:540:42:01

I would cite as one of the proofs of Brian's real eminence in this medium

0:42:020:42:08

that he's constantly trying to redefine what this medium is and what it can do.

0:42:080:42:14

He's stripped it right down and started to make stained glass without any lead.

0:42:140:42:21

This is a project in Saudi Arabia with Norman Foster in the Al Faisaliyah Center in Riyadh.

0:42:220:42:29

And this is, I think, the largest stained glass window in the world.

0:42:290:42:34

I've forgotten how many thousands of square metres. I was working on a new kind of stained glass,

0:42:340:42:40

a kind that excluded lead.

0:42:400:42:43

We were printing in circles a dot matrix of transparent ceramic glazes

0:42:430:42:49

onto the surface of the glass

0:42:490:42:52

that could form in the kind of photographic pixelated way a photographic image.

0:42:520:42:58

We put it onto a three-layer laminate of glazing

0:42:580:43:03

so that the yellow dots were on the front, the blue dots on the middle layer and the black,

0:43:030:43:10

which gave form, on the back. It looked like dots floating in air.

0:43:100:43:15

It gives the impression that you can put your hand into it through the distance of the material.

0:43:150:43:21

What's great about it is the dots are so big

0:43:210:43:25

that when you are at distance from it, you can read it.

0:43:250:43:30

The closer you get to it, the more difficult it becomes. It was almost like a mirage.

0:43:300:43:36

The same technique is developed here in my project Lamina for the Gagosian Gallery in London

0:44:060:44:14

and here for the first time I took the piece in the gallery around the gallery

0:44:140:44:20

and penetrated the wall out onto the pavement and back into the gallery again.

0:44:200:44:26

But the whole time it's kind of a floating, now you see it, now you don't experience.

0:44:260:44:33

This technique had its most dramatic expression

0:44:340:44:39

in the Pyramid of Peace in Kazakhstan.

0:44:390:44:44

The apex of this pyramid is entirely surrounded by a flock of doves

0:44:440:44:50

that look like they've been disturbed and move in a spiral up to the apex,

0:44:500:44:55

but you can see right through them. If the camera lens here was focused on the city beyond,

0:44:550:45:01

you would see Astana.

0:45:010:45:04

The transmission of colour into the central security chamber, which houses 250 delegates below,

0:45:040:45:10

bathes the whole thing in a kind of extraordinary, soft, rather delicate light.

0:45:100:45:16

Clarke's mother, with whom he'd remained very close, died in 2006.

0:45:200:45:25

The experience inspired new directions in his work as well as a number of creative breakthroughs.

0:45:250:45:31

TRANSLATED FROM GERMAN:

0:45:430:45:46

His medium was lead upon lead. Lead lines soldered onto lead,

0:46:180:46:23

with little... sometimes you'd have small passages of stained glass in those,

0:46:230:46:29

just to remind us it's a stained glass window.

0:46:290:46:33

Then he even had panels of lead on lead. So he'd done the absolute light transmission

0:46:330:46:40

to absolute opacity.

0:46:400:46:43

When my mum was in hospital, shortly before...the end,

0:46:440:46:50

I did quite a few photographs of her hands.

0:46:500:46:54

And one of those pictures happens to be her making one of her famous lists.

0:46:540:47:00

She made lists for everything.

0:47:000:47:02

There's one.

0:47:030:47:05

It's a birthday party of mine that she came to. She's wanting to report to her sisters who was there.

0:47:100:47:17

She didn't want to forget Lulu.

0:47:170:47:20

I rather like this one.

0:47:200:47:22

She has...

0:47:220:47:24

When these lists are expressed in lead on lead,

0:47:240:47:28

and they become a permanent solid thing

0:47:300:47:34

rather than a transitory moment in a passing day,

0:47:340:47:38

you have to look at them in a slightly different way.

0:47:380:47:42

And the kind of delicacy of existence,

0:47:420:47:46

the vulnerability of existence,

0:47:460:47:49

becomes much more intense.

0:47:490:47:52

It had a moment of importance when she wrote it,

0:47:520:47:57

and then that moment of importance passed with the next day,

0:47:570:48:00

but now she's gone

0:48:000:48:03

it becomes a window

0:48:030:48:06

through which you can re-access her a little bit.

0:48:060:48:11

He can really draw.

0:48:390:48:42

A lot of thinking goes into drawing. If a line goes that way or that way.

0:48:420:48:47

You can tell the difference between that and a flash drawer who can draw a dog that's like a dog.

0:48:470:48:54

They're almost not thinking. It's just like a camera, really.

0:48:540:48:59

Whereas the person who decides to exclude things from a drawing,

0:48:590:49:03

a person who decides that only two lines are necessary or decides that 53 lines must be necessary,

0:49:030:49:10

there's a lot of consideration that goes into that.

0:49:100:49:15

The making of art is...

0:49:190:49:23

an intimate process.

0:49:230:49:25

And whilst it involves collaboration in many instances,

0:49:250:49:30

it is fundamentally a solitary and...

0:49:300:49:34

and internal experience.

0:49:340:49:38

You can sketch and you can draw and you can work out ideas on paper or on canvas

0:49:390:49:45

or whatever way you do,

0:49:450:49:47

but where the real drawing takes place is

0:49:480:49:52

in the mind.

0:49:520:49:54

Very masculine hands, my mum had.

0:50:220:50:24

You know, work. Work.

0:50:260:50:29

She worked in a cotton mill most of her life.

0:50:290:50:33

She used to say, "My calluses have got calluses."

0:50:330:50:37

I've always liked drawing hands, but I particularly don't want these hands to be slick.

0:50:390:50:45

I don't want them to be clever drawings, you know?

0:50:450:50:50

There's a Brian ring. He did it for my birthday.

0:51:210:51:26

It's like a kind of a... a freehand sketch, made in gold. Like a gold sketch.

0:51:270:51:34

I draw very straight lines

0:51:340:51:37

and they... his are slightly crinkled.

0:51:370:51:41

It's almost like a drawing in space.

0:51:410:51:44

I haven't seen the recent stuff, but it should be done like that, as if drawing not on a canvas

0:51:460:51:52

but in a volume.

0:51:520:51:54

Clarke's lifelong exploration of the line in drawing, painting and stained glass

0:52:180:52:23

has naturally led him into sculpture.

0:52:230:52:27

What I'm trying to achieve here is what I've been doing with the paintings and drawings

0:52:270:52:33

for a very long time and that is to use

0:52:330:52:37

the figurative idea - the tube of paint, the fleur-de-lis or the cross before that.

0:52:370:52:44

It doesn't really matter, but it provides you with some kind of curious road map

0:52:440:52:50

and then you use that as the springboard from which to leap into the air with your line.

0:52:500:52:56

Having made that springboard,

0:53:060:53:08

and I feel we're getting near to a place now where we can allow the line

0:53:080:53:14

to take its own route.

0:53:140:53:17

You can see where that kind of idea might work very effectively.

0:53:190:53:24

Yeah.

0:53:240:53:25

-That's fantastic.

-Norman Foster has created this marvellous new plaza -

0:53:260:53:32

especially for me, I have no doubt!

0:53:330:53:36

Now he's more secure. I think when you get older you are more at peace with yourself.

0:53:480:53:55

He's not completely at peace with himself, but more approaching it.

0:53:550:53:59

It's actually also anxiety that makes him seem arrogant,

0:54:010:54:05

I think. Cos I think underneath it is still that quiet, shy person, really.

0:54:050:54:12

I think he has his vulnerabilities and his sensitivities, anxieties.

0:54:190:54:25

There has been many things that he has done which are wonderful and which have not received

0:54:250:54:31

very much recognition at all. And I've seen him, understandably, become despondent about that.

0:54:310:54:37

I think he's a really great artist and he should be recognised,

0:54:390:54:43

but I don't think fame is really a criteria for quality.

0:54:440:54:50

I just hope whatever he does he's happy with it within himself.

0:54:500:54:55

Because I don't think anybody else can convince him that it's great stuff.

0:54:550:55:01

He has to...he has to believe that

0:55:020:55:05

and...and his time will come.

0:55:050:55:09

It's great to see you all here, but I just want to take this special opportunity to say something

0:55:100:55:16

that I've not really said in public before, which is that I really love Liz, my ex-wife...

0:55:160:55:22

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:55:220:55:24

..and...

0:55:290:55:30

..and if it were not for her, and the possible exception of Zaha, who's here somewhere,

0:55:310:55:38

-I would be conventional, orthodox and a pain in the arse.

-LAUGHTER

0:55:380:55:43

And it's using them as standards by which to judge myself that I constantly try to move on.

0:55:430:55:50

But Liz is here tonight and our son, Dan, is here and I'm really proud of both of them.

0:55:500:55:56

-So...

-CHEERING

0:55:560:55:58

'I think artists mostly today are businessmen pretending to be inspired.

0:56:200:56:26

'And they work in such tandem with art dealers

0:56:260:56:31

'and museums

0:56:310:56:33

'and collectors

0:56:330:56:35

'that it becomes... an entirely bland

0:56:350:56:41

'and colourless business mechanism,

0:56:410:56:45

'designed to fulfil a market need

0:56:450:56:48

'at the expense of innovation, originality and honesty.'

0:56:480:56:53

And I think that I exist in a kind of parallel world to the art world,

0:56:560:57:01

not necessarily outside, but...

0:57:010:57:04

perhaps parallel.

0:57:040:57:06

'My role is to get as close to being me as I possible can

0:57:080:57:15

'in the picture. And in the work.

0:57:150:57:18

'So long as I remember'

0:57:200:57:23

the power of liberating oneself through imagination

0:57:230:57:27

and through the subjective interpretation of the world,

0:57:270:57:32

I feel I can go anywhere.

0:57:330:57:35

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2011

0:58:100:58:14

Email [email protected]

0:58:150:58:17

Brian Clarke is one of Britain's hidden treasures. A painter of striking large canvases and the designer of some of the most exciting stained glass in the world today, he is better known abroad - especially in Germany and Switzerland - than in his own country and more widely recognised among critics, collectors and gallery owners than he is by the general public.

In this visually striking documentary portrait made by award-winning film-maker Mark Kidel, Clarke returns to Lancashire where he grew up as a prodigy in a working class family and charts his meteoric rise during the punk years and eventual success as a stained glass artist working with some of the world's great architects, including Norman Foster and Arata Isozaki - and producing spectacular work in Japan, Brazil, the USA and Europe.

Contributors include his close friend and architect Zaha Hadid, architect Peter Cook and art historian Martin Harrison.