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York student wins international Eleanor Worthington Prize

Posted on 11 January 2021

Isabelle Davies, a student on the MA in Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management, has been awarded the 2020 Eleanor Worthington Prize.

Blinded Elymas by Isabelle Davies

The Eleanor Worthington Prize is a competition held in memory of Eleanor Worthington (1982 to 2008), a disabled woman who lived her life in York and in Urbino, Italy. Open to students of the arts at all institutions in the UK and Italy, the theme for 2020 was ‘Inclusion of Disability in Raphael’s World’, as it is 500 years since the artist’s death. Isabelle was awarded first prize for a student in a British institution for her interpretation in painted glass of one of Raphael’s works. Her prize will be a week’s stay in Urbino next summer.

Isabelle said: “I was immediately inspired when I saw Raphael’s cartoon for the Sistine Chapel tapestry of Paul blinding Elymas. I was excited to further interpret Raphael’s work with my own ideas and focus specifically on Elymas and his experience in this episode from the Acts of the Apostles.

“I thought that stained glass was an ideal medium for this reinterpretation, as the making process also involves the use of a cartoon, and more ideologically and artistically, it has strong connections with religion, light, and sight. The modulations of light and dark in the piece through the different dilutions, washes, lines and removals of black paint over multiple firings conveys Elymas suddenly being left in the dark alone after being blinded, despite being surrounded by people in Raphael’s original. Isolation is not uncommon among people living with sight loss.

“The piece is also very tactile with all the different materials, connecting it with ideas of the importance of multi-sensory experiences.”

Remarkably this is Isabelle’s first experience of glass-painting, and she was mentored in the studio by fellow student Maria Shah.