Brief for artists

St Patrick’s Chapel, Glastonbury Abbey Repair and Enhancement
Brief for artists
1. Brief
The Trustees of Glastonbury Abbey are seeking 2 artists, a mural painter and a
craftsman in stained glass, to work at the abbey as part of a project to repair and
enhance the medieval chapel of St Patrick, using traditional building and repair
materials and crafts. The project will involve working with local
unemployed/disadvantaged young people. It will be the subject of an application to
the Lottery’s Your Heritage grant programme.
2. Background
2.1 History
St Patrick’s Chapel is the last remaining component of an almshouse for women built
by Abbot Beere (1493-1525) in 1512. In the Middle Ages this was separated from
the remainder of the precinct of the abbey by a high wall. The women’s cells were
rebuilt in the 19th century, acquired by the Trustees of the abbey in 1962 and
demolished in 1963. By contrast, the chapel is believed to have survived the postReformation period as a roofed structure.
As the abbey’s Conservation Plan points out, the chapel has significance as the
abbey’s only roofed place of worship, and as the most prominent demonstration of the
abbey’s medieval charitable activities. It has important surviving medieval features
including fragmentary medieval stained glass and the remnants of a medieval altar.
The chapel is open throughout the year to visitors and used every week for worship.
2.2 Building description
The chapel is a simple single-cell building with east and west gables, a North
doorway, a high east window, a 16C Perpendicular window on its south side. It
retains its late medieval walls on its east, north and south sides, but the western wall
was rebuilt by W.D. Caroe after 1909, incorporating early 16C sculpted panels. Its
east window was replaced in the 19th or early 20th century. The interior is plastered
throughout. A fuller description can be consulted through the Listed Building description
on the English Heritage Images of England website.
The internal surfaces of the building are suffering from the use of cement render and
emulsion paint, which have trapped damp. Investigation has revealed that no traces
of earlier medieval paint survive under these modern surfaces.
3. Aims and objectives of the project
3.1 Aims
To repair and enhance the chapel using traditional building repair materials and crafts,
involving young people from the local community in the process. The project, both
while it is in train and once completed will offer a unique experience to visitors to
the abbey.
3.2 Objectives
 To protect the exterior of the Chapel with lime render
 To remove existing cement render and replace with lime mortar and limewash
 To decorate the new internal surfaces with murals inspired by the life of St
Patrick, to re-create the ambience of a Medieval chapel.
 To replace the plain glass in the modern East window with coloured glass inspired
by the same theme.
 To involve young unemployed people or people with behavioural, physical or
learning disabilities (‘the workforce’) in both the repair and enhancement elements of
the project, to teach them new skills, which will help them secure employment.
 To showcase the project to visitors to the abbey
4. Scope of the commission
4.1 The contribution of the mural and glass artists
The two artists will work on the enhancement element of the project. The exact
scope and detail of their contribution can only be finalised after discussion with the
successful applicants and other members of the project team. In outline the artists
Work with the project team to agree the detailed specification for their work.
 Work with the project team to devise the programme for the involvement of the
young people recruited to work on the decorative elements of the project
 Lead these young people in the creation, on paper, of decorative themes and
motifs for the murals and window glass by facilitating the group’s understanding of the
use of wall paintings and window glass in medieval church buildings and modern
settings and by demonstrating through their own skills the creative possibilities of both
 Produce the final pieces of art work using the ideas generated by the workforce.
In the case of the wall painting this will be directly onto the chapel walls, using
limewash or other suitable ‘breathable’ medium. In the case of the window glass this
will be making the glass panels and installing them in the existing tracery.
 Contribute to the dissemination of the project’s aims and achievements to visitors
to the abbey
4.2 The workforce
The workforce will be drawn from the clients of the various agencies which are
partners in the project. They will be young people who, for a variety of reasons,
have difficulty accessing the jobs market, whether through lack of skills or behavioural,
physical or learning difficulties. The exact composition and the numbers involved are
still to be decided. It is suggested a total of 12 individuals, 6 to work with each
artist, may be the optimum group size, though we will be guided by the experience
of the partners and the artists before making a final decision.
4.3 Partners
The artist will work with abbey staff and advisers as well as with the project partners
and contractors.
These are:
Vicky Dawson: project management, interpretation, historical research
Susan Strong: education and interpretation
Francis Thyer: site management, Health and Safety
Alan Thomas: architect
John Allan: archaeologist
Conservation builders: the contractors carrying out the repairs to the fabric and
managing the section of the workforce working on this element of the project. The
firm Carrek are involved in putting together the specification. The award of the final
contract has to go out to tender.
The Probation Service, the Diocesan Youth Officer, the South West Heritage v Team,
Somerset College of Art and Technology and Somerset Youth volunteers: suppliers of the
workforce for both the repair and enhancement elements of the project – to be
4.4 Timing of the project
It is planned to submit the application to the Lottery fund at the beginning of
December 2007. Hopefully a decision will be forthcoming by late March 2008, with
a possible start date for the project in April/May. With the repairs needing to
precede the decorative stages and a period of ‘drying out’ of the walls required, it is
unlikely that this will be able to go ahead until the late autumn or even early 2009.
There is likely to be flexibility in order to fit in with the preferred artists’ other
commitments. A more precise indication of the timetable can only be drawn up with
the input of the selected artists and partners, when a clearer idea is achieved of
what is possible within the budget, the capabilities of the workforce and the constraints
of working within a listed building.
4.5 Location of the project
The artists will work at Glastonbury Abbey with the workforce. It may also be
desirable to take the workforce to visit other sites as part of the project. In the
case of the glass craftsman, some work may have to be done in a workshop off
4.6 Funding for the project
The go ahead for the decorative element of the project is subject to a successful
outcome to the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Trustees of Glastonbury Abbey
are contributing cash as well as staff time to the project. Other sources of money
and help in kind are likely to be sought from the partners, charitable trusts and
No indication is given at present of the budget available for the artistic elements of
the work. Rather we will be guided by the artists’ proposals and subsequent
negotiations. As a rough indication, for similar education projects in the past, we
have worked on the figure of £180/day.
4.7 Child protection
The artist appointed to this contract will be required to have (or obtain) full
clearance from the Criminal Records Bureau.
4.8 Copyright
In creating the work the artists will assign the copyright of the works to the Trustees
of Glastonbury Abbey. This will not affect their right to use images of the work for
the promotion of their business. The precise agreement covering copyright will be
negotiated prior to appointment.
4.9 Insurance
The successful applicant is required to have public liability insurance to the value of
5. Expressions of interest
Expressions of interest are invited from mural painters and craftsmen in glass who are
interested in undertaking the work described above.
You are requested to submit a proposal on how you would approach the commission
and work with the workforce to achieve the objectives of the project. An indication of
the hourly rate charged and an overall estimate of the likely cost of your proposal
should be included, as should a CV, examples of similar projects you have
undertaken and the names and contacts details of two referees.
Expressions of interest should arrive at the abbey by XXXXX
6. Further information
You are welcome to visit the abbey to view the chapel and speak to a member of
the project team. Please contact Vicky Dawson (01823 274525 –
[email protected]) for an informal discussion or to arrange an appointment
to visit Glastonbury.
Glastonbury Abbey
November 2007