Tuesday 14 October 2014, 8 pm
Stained glass windows by Evie Hone adorn churches all over the island of Ireland, in many parts of England, and even in Washington D.C. Near to Lismullin in the visitor centre at Tara, her depiction of The Descent of the Holy Ghost can be seen to spectacular effect in the morning sunshine. Many people rank highest her five windows in the prayer room of the Jesuit centre, Manresa House, Clontarf. However, her personal favourite was the three-light window in the Catholic Church at Kingscourt, Co. Cavan. Her most innovative and high profile work in Ireland is the semi-abstract Four Green Fields gracing the Office of the Taoiseach, originally commissioned by the Irish Government for the New York World Fair of 1939. The enormous East window at Eton College, depicting the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, established her reputation as the pre-eminent stained glass artist working in the these islands in the mid-twentieth century.
Evie Hone was born into a wealthy Protestant family in Donnybrook in 1894. When receiving medical treatment abroad for poliomyelitis, this modest but determined fourteen-year-old encountered the work of the Great Masters and resolved to devote her life to art – as well as to God, who had already become the cornerstone of her life during years of illness. After studying in London, Hone and her friend Mainie Jellett went to Paris where they embraced abstract cubism. Hone spent ten years learning to arrange pure form and colour, without a subject, to produce an effect of beauty. When, in her thirties she turned to stained glass, this intense discipline in design was of immense value in helping her to ‘raise the heart and mind to God’ through her work. In 1937, after many years of soul-searching, she was received into the Catholic Church. This illustrated talk will look at the life and work of one of Ireland’s greatest artists, about whom there is almost nothing available in print, and who deserves to be more widely appreciated.
Fiana Griffin lectures on Irish stained glass and aspects of Irish culture at All Hallows College, Dublin (DCU), and delivers her own intensive Irish Studies courses a number of times a year in Dublin. She was recently commissioned to write a monograph on Evie Hone and her 1954 rose window in All Hallows College chapel. Her lifelong passion for Irish stained glass was inspired in the 1960’s by Harry Clarke’s Geneva Window. She later took this as the topic for her MA thesis and is working on a book about it and the light it throws on the Irish Free State.