Fiona Tan creates Europe's Largest Stained Glass Window in Alkmaar, Netherlands

Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Fiona Tan creates Europe's Largest Stained Glass Window in Alkmaar, Netherlands

The 23-meter-high and 6-meter-wide window, the largest in Europe, no fewer than 45,000 pieces of glass in 88 different colors have been incorporated. Together, they create an enchanting kaleidoscope of almost 200 rosettes, which appear differently in the changing sunlight. "I consider it as a long strip of film."

The artist has seized upon the theme of the light of freedom to create an artwork that is a celebration of light and color for both current and future generations. Her design is like a kaleidoscope, with each panel resembling a frame of a vertical filmstrip. Her design is inspired on one hand by the rhythmic small-scale detailing of medieval church windows and, on the other hand, by a kaleidoscope made of glass shards (found by her grandmother's brother at Reims Cathedral), which Tan played with as a child.

The color scheme across the entire window is like the rising sun over the North Holland landscape. At the bottom, the light is filled with lots of white, warm yellow, orange, and red hues. Moving upward, the palette contains progressively cooler shades, including blue, purple, and indigo. Each panel is unique. The artist intends for the design to encompass an exciting combination of old and new—a modern digital animation executed using centuries-old traditional techniques. The changing interplay of sun, light, sky, visible through the clear colored glass, creates an image that can be contemplated for a long time.

Fiona Tan says :"I find this church to be very beautiful in terms of light. It's no wonder that Saenredam painted this church. Each cardinal direction has its own unique qualities. Facing south, I have to contend with a lot of direct sunlight on the window. 

Although I've never worked with stained glass before, I've completely immersed myself in it. It's been a lot of fun to work with and dive into. My design is created with the latest digital imaging technology but is executed using ancient craftsmanship.

I consider it a great honor to have been chosen for this project. It's been very enjoyable for me to work with light, color, and movement/variation in this way. I've done a lot of exploratory research by visiting as many churches as possible. Through this, I've personally experienced how beautifully a stained glass window can be. How the light changes throughout the day, and how the experience is always fresh and special. I understand very well that such an experience can be sublime or even spiritual. One could also call stained glass windows in medieval churches precursors to the cinema—a thrilling story, depicted in light and color that is constantly changing.

I wanted to create an artwork that can be looked at for a long time. If you zoom in and your eye travels vertically upward, you'll see that there is movement and development from panel to panel, just like turning a kaleidoscope. Each vertical sequence is like a filmstrip, a series of stills from an abstract film. Your eye, in a way, takes a journey through the window.

The new window will be a celebration of light and color for the present and future generations."

Stephanie Cime

ArtDependence WhatsApp Group

Get the latest ArtDependence updates directly in WhatsApp by joining the ArtDependence WhatsApp Group by clicking the link or scanning the QR code below


Subscribe to the Newsletter

Image of the Day

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


About ArtDependence

ArtDependence Magazine is an international magazine covering all spheres of contemporary art, as well as modern and classical art.

ArtDependence features the latest art news, highlighting interviews with today’s most influential artists, galleries, curators, collectors, fair directors and individuals at the axis of the arts.

The magazine also covers series of articles and reviews on critical art events, new publications and other foremost happenings in the art world.

If you would like to submit events or editorial content to ArtDependence Magazine, please feel free to reach the magazine via the contact page.