Dunedin captured in glass

St Paul (Paul the Apostle) is portrayed using the likeness of the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese...
St Paul (Paul the Apostle) is portrayed using the likeness of the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Dunedin, the Rt Rev Dr Kelvin Wright. St Paul's Cathedral was previously without an image of its namesake. Above St Paul is the cherub of Benji...
References to Dunedin's history include the John Wickliffe and Philip Laing ships sailing into...
References to Dunedin's history include the John Wickliffe and Philip Laing ships sailing into Port Chalmers with the first Scottish settlers in 1848.
Creatures people commonly see when exploring Dunedin and the wider Otago Peninsula form a key...
Creatures people commonly see when exploring Dunedin and the wider Otago Peninsula form a key component of the window. These are the native red-billed gull (top left), spoonbill (centre left), pied oystercatcher (bottom left) and yellow-eyed penguin ...
This real miner's cottage is clad in Central Otago schist and has a bark roof. The smoking...
This real miner's cottage is clad in Central Otago schist and has a bark roof. The smoking chimney and wood stack outside reference the cold, harsh conditions faced by early goldminers. A rudimentary fence and gold cradle complete the scene.
Centre panels show Dunedin's flora and fauna from the seashore, through native dune tussock, over...
Centre panels show Dunedin's flora and fauna from the seashore, through native dune tussock, over peninsula hills and into the sky. Wading birds on the sand and those which thrive in low-lying scrub include the blue penguin (bottom left) pied stilt ...
The original St Paul's Cathedral is shown in its original position closer to the road through the...
The original St Paul's Cathedral is shown in its original position closer to the road through the Octagon. A deanery is included behind and a horse-drawn cart carrying people passes on a rough road in front.
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa appears as St Cecilia, the patron saint of music. She embodies the cultural...
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa appears as St Cecilia, the patron saint of music. She embodies the cultural blend of New Zealand European, Maori and Polynesian people. As St Cecilia, Dame Kiri holds a medieval portative organ and wears a garland of native clematis...
The Cullingtons' grandchildren Benji (6) and Gemma (4) Pickering feature as cherubs playing a...
The Cullingtons' grandchildren Benji (6) and Gemma (4) Pickering feature as cherubs playing a shawm (early oboe) and an early flute. Dr Cullington was the organist and choirmaster at St Paul's from 1975 to 1978, so music is an important theme in the...
The image of St Paul's Anglican Church in Arrowtown commemorates the area's important place in...
The image of St Paul's Anglican Church in Arrowtown commemorates the area's important place in Otago's history.
Jesus Christ has central place at the top of the tracery.
Jesus Christ has central place at the top of the tracery.
The Hui Te Rangiora (All Souls) church at Puketeraki, now Karitane.
The Hui Te Rangiora (All Souls) church at Puketeraki, now Karitane.
One of Peter Mackenzie's detailed images, this one depicting an early horn.
One of Peter Mackenzie's detailed images, this one depicting an early horn.
The full window. Photos by Gregor Richardson.
The full window. Photos by Gregor Richardson.

Dunedin's faces, places, flora and fauna are captured in a stained-glass work installed this month inside St Paul's Cathedral. Artist Peter Mackenzie explained the relevance and technical process behind each intricate detail to Rosie Manins.

To accurately depict real people, buildings, animals and landscapes on glass, artist Peter Mackenzie employs a range of techniques.

He ordered thousands of pieces of custom French glass for the window, which he painted, etched, exposed to chemicals and heated.

Photographs taken and supplied by Otago Daily Times illustrations editor Stephen Jaquiery proved invaluable for Mr Mackenzie when it came to incorporating birds and animals into his work.

He also took the opportunity for a closer look upon discovery of a sleeping sea lion at Aramoana.

"I was able to get really close to it and realised for the first time that sea lions have residual toenails on their flippers, which I could add in," he said.

Upwards of 10 layers of paint was used on many of the creatures to do justice to their textured bodies.

Each layer was "baked" on to the glass at 1200degF (650degC) and at times Mr Mackenzie painted both sides of the glass to achieve a "soft" lifelike aesthetic.

For the penguins, Mr Mackenzie used "flashed glass" which had a layer of colour over a clear background.

"The glass is about 3mm thick but the top .5mm or so is a very fine layer of rich colour," he said.

Mr Mackenzie used acid to etch through the fine colour layer in parts, by masking other areas.

He achieved hue variation by exposing the glass to acid for different lengths of time.

On top, he used paint layering as well as scraffito, in which a layer of paint was applied and parts scratched off to create texture such as feathers.
Fine yellow details on the penguins were created by painting silver nitrate on glass then heating it to 1050degF (560degC), which allowed the glass to absorb some of the chemical compound, turning it golden in colour.

A Garrick Tremain drawing of a mid-1800s goldminer's cottage at Arrowtown provided the detail Mr Mackenzie needed to portray the lifestyle of those who pioneered during the early gold-rush era.

He used up to 16 layers of paint on the cottage, working the stone texture and applying different stains.

Mr Mackenzie, of Maia, said the window was a once-in-a-lifetime project and the most complex he had done.

It took two years and regular input by benefactors Stella and Donald Cullington, of Company Bay, who were thrilled with the result.

"Peter has interpreted it brilliantly, in the style we wanted," they said.

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