WHEN one thinks of a majestic stained-glass window, steeped in history, towering above an archetypal monument it’s not difficult to understand how the vision, whatever it entails, can inspire.
The refined lead piping entangling mother and child with sparkles of gold halo shining as the sunlight seeps in shows deity and, perhaps more poignantly, tremendous craft.
It was these very such windows depicting biblical scenes within Cantebury Cathedral that inspired Winchester-based glass artist Cathy Roberts to begin forging her trade.
“I studied print-making and music at Canterbury University,” she said. “I just remember there was a window and I couldn’t stop looking at it even though I was performing. I love print-making but I was really taken back by how beautiful this window was that I decided to look into glasswork.”
The 34-year-old mother-of-one, now living in Netley Abbey, works from her studio in Sutton Scotney which, incidentally, is the home of her sister and fellow artist, Lisa Davidson.
“I pretty much dragged her into it all,” Cathy adds. “She wasn’t really interested in glasswork but now she’s loving it and she’s so patient with some of the more fiddly stuff, such as lamp-working, that I could never do.”
The two started the Between Dreams studio in Botley in 2004 before Cathy became pregnant with her son Sebastian in 2012 which meant she couldn’t commit to the business full-time.
Fast-forward a few years and the pair had set up a new company: C Star Design.
The sisters now take part in regular exhibitions, showcasing their works at Christmas markets across the south, including Newbury and Portsmouth’s historic dockyards this December, but their favourite annual show is the Art in the Garden display at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens which they’ve exhibited at for the last four years.
“Anyone can go and look at the art there,” Mrs Roberts said. “It’s displayed simply throughout the gardens in a really lovely setting. You get to look around and have your opinion on a piece of art; you either love it or you don’t and that’s why we’ve kept going back. There is something for everyone.”
While Mrs Roberts says it was the grand complex stained-glass windows that inspired her originally, it’s their new and more modern concepts of delicate and pretty objects that fills her with joy.
“We have got a little angel and it’s nothing special,” she said. “But it’s just so popular. It’s just a simple window hanging and yet so many people can find something they like about it, something they can relate to, that it flies off the shelves. It’s certainly kept us going!”
Their small handkerchief-shaped “frillies” tea-light holders and heart-shaped decorations, saucers and glasses, star-decorations and even personalised coasters are all handmade at their studio.
The Art in the Garden exhibition, which has been running for 15 years, runs until October 19 showcasing over 100 unique sculptures by 47 artists from around the country.
For more information visit hants.gov.uk/hilliergardens/hilliers-whatson/artinthegarden.htm.