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Detail of the Jesus and the Children Pane of the Ezekiel Oddy Stained Glass Memorial Window by Napier Waller; St Kilda Presbyterian Church - Corner Barkley Street and Alma Road, St Kilda

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posted by alias raaen99 on Monday 19th of January 2015 01:03:17 AM

Installed in 1950, the Ezekiel Oddy memorial stained glass window was a gift to the St Kilda Presbyterian Church from his wife, Mary. The window was designed by Australian stained glass artist and muralist Napier Waller (1893 – 1972). Looking out onto the church's sideway, the left-hand stained glass window features Jesus with the children, whilst the right-hand pane shows Jesus restoring Peter. Jesus with the children comes from the Book of Matthew, where Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." The window depicts Jesus embracing a young girl clutching a toddler in her arms, whilst two other small children play at Jesus' feet; the youngest of which stares directly at the window's observer. A number of children's faces appear above Jesus, and two ghostly disciples peer out from behind Jesus' shoulders. Jesus restoring Peter comes from the Book of John. Jesus is surrounded by his flock, with Peter in front of him tending his sheep as he was bid by Jesus. Saint Peter appears holding a large gold key amongst the other Apostles above Jesus' head. Both windows are of note for the quality of their stylised faces, typical of Napier Waller's work, and for the leaf patterns that appear at the bottom of each window. The window's octofoil features the Lamb of God holding a Christian banner. This is a typical symbol for Agnus Dei. Around the Lamb of God appear the words; "such is the Kingdom of God" which reflects the verse in the Book of Matthew that mentions Jesus and the children; "feed my sheep" which is from the verse in which Jesus restores Peter from the Book of John. The palate of these windows are wonderfully light and pale in comparison to all the other older nave windows of the St Kilda Presbyterian Church, and even though the window faces a tall building on the other side of the laneway, it still allows plenty of light to penetrate the church and illuminate the window. Built on the crest of a hill in a prominent position overlooking St Kilda and the bay is the grand St Kilda Presbyterian Church. The St Kilda Presbyterian Church's interior is cool, spacious and lofty, with high ceilings of tongue and groove boards laid diagonally, and a large apse whose ceiling was once painted with golden star stenciling. The bluestone walls are so thick that the sounds of the busy intersection of Barkley Street and Alma Road barely permeate the church's interior, and it is easy to forget that you are in such a noisy inner Melbourne suburb. The cedar pews of the church are divided by two grand aisles which feature tall cast iron columns with Corinthian capitals. At the rear of the building towards Alma Road there are twin porches and a narthex with a staircase that leads to the rear gallery where the choir sang from. It apparently once housed an organ by William Anderson, but the space today is used as an office and Bible study area. The current impressive Fincham and Hobday organ from 1892 sits in the north-east corner of the church. It cost £1030.00 to acquire and install. The church is flooded with light, even on an overcast day with a powerful thunder storm brewing (as the weather was on my visit). The reason for such light is because of the very large Gothic windows, many of which are filled with quarry glass by Ferguson and Urie featuring geometric tracery with coloured borders. The church also features stained glass windows designed by Ferguson and Urie, British stained glass artist Ernest Richard Suffling, Brooks, Robinson and Company Glass Merchants, Mathieson and Gibson of Melbourne and one by Australian stained glass artist Napier Waller. Opened in 1886, the St Kilda Presbyterian church was designed by the architects firm of Wilson and Beswicke, a business founded in 1881 by Ralph Wilson and John Beswicke (1847 - 1925) when they became partners for a short period. The church is constructed of bluestone with freestone dressings and designed in typical Victorian Gothic style. The foundation stone, which may be found on the Alma Road facade, was laid by the Governor of Victoria Sir Henry Barkly on 27 January. When it was built, the St Kilda Presbyterian Church was surrounded by large properties with grand mansions built upon them, so the congregation were largely very affluent and wished for a place of worship that reflected its stature not only in location atop a hill, but in size and grandeur. The exterior facades of the church on Barkley Street and Alma Road are dominated by a magnificent tower topped by an imposing tower. The location of the church and the height of the tower made the spire a landmark for mariners sailing into Melbourne's port. The tower features corner pinnacles and round spaces for the insertion of a clock, which never took place. Common Victorian Gothic architectural features of the St Kilda Presbyterian Church include complex bar tracery over the windows, wall buttresses which identify structural bays, gabled roof vents, parapeted gables and excellent stone masonry across the entire structure. I am very grateful to the Reverend Paul Lee for allowing me the opportunity to photograph the interior of the St Kilda Presbyterian Church so extensively, and to Kieran, the former church organist who gave me such great information on the St Kilda Presbyterian Church, including that of the beautiful Napier Waller window. The architects Wilson and Beswicke were also responsible for the Brighton, Dandenong, Essendon, Hawthorn and Malvern Town Halls and the Brisbane Wesleyan Church on the corner of Albert and Ann Streets. They also designed shops in the inner Melbourne suburbs of Auburn and Fitzroy. They also designed several individual houses, including "Tudor House" in Williamstown, "Tudor Lodge" in Hawthorn and "Rotha" in Hawthorn, the latter of which is where John Beswicke lived. Mervyn Napier Waller (1893 – 1972) was an Australian artist. Born in Penshurst, Victoria, Napier was the son of William Waller, contractor, and his wife Sarah, née Napier. Educated locally until aged 14, he then worked on his father's farm. In 1913 he began studies at the National Gallery schools, Melbourne, and first exhibited water-colours and drawings at the Victorian Artists' Society in 1915. On 31 August of that year he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, and on 21 October at the manse of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Carlton, married Christian Yandell, a fellow student and artist from Castlemaine. Serving in France from the end of 1916, Waller was seriously wounded in action, and his right arm had to be amputated at the shoulder. Whilst convalescing in France and England Napier learned to write and draw with his left hand. After coming home to Australia he exhibited a series of war sketches in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Hobart between 1918 and 1919 which helped to establish his reputation as a talented artist. Napier continued to paint in water-colour, taking his subjects from mythology and classical legend, but exhibited a group of linocuts in 1923. In 1927 Napier completed his first major mural for the Menzies Hotel, Melbourne. Next year his mural 'Peace after Victory' was installed in the State Library of Victoria. Visiting England and Europe in 1929 to study stained glass, the Wallers travelled in Italy where Napier was deeply impressed by the mosaics in Ravenna and studied mosaic in Venice. He returned to Melbourne in March 1930 and began to work almost exclusively in stained glass and mosaic. In 1931 he completed a great monumental mosaic for the University of Western Australia; two important commissions in Melbourne followed: the mosaic façade for Newspaper House (completed 1933) and murals for the dining hall in the Myer Emporium (completed 1935). During this time he also worked on a number of stained-glass commissions, some in collaboration with his wife, Christian. Between 1939 and 1945 he worked as an illustrator and undertook no major commissions. In 1946 he finished a three-lancet window commemorating the New Guinea martyrs for St Peter's Church, Eastern Hill. In 1952-58 he designed and completed the mosaics and stained glass for the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. On 25 January 1958 in a civil ceremony in Melbourne Waller had married Lorna Marion Reyburn, a New Zealand-born artist who had long been his assistant in stained glass.

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  • Published 07.04.22
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