Edgar Phillips, artist-in-residence at The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens in Wells, has started work on a large scale stained glass project to bring to life one of the palace’s most famous stories – thanks to a chance find.
Mr Phillips has been working from the restored apple store in the palace gardens for the last two-years and has been planning a large scale project to bring to life the tale of Bishop Jocelyn and his slaying of the Dragon of Worminster – a much-loved tale amongst local residents which has been told in many ways over the years.
The renowned artist had been in talks with the palace to reproduce a stained glass version of the dragon to enhance the corner of the gardens nearest to his studio, but he was experiencing a strange type of “artist’s block”.
Mr Phillips said: “Over the past three-years, I have in all sorts of lights, weathers, moods, and even characters, stared at the space where any self-respecting dragon would show itself, and… nuffin, not a sausage.
“I’ve looked at thousands of images of dragons, worms, wyrmes, wyverns, lizards, crocodiles, dinosaurs and snakes – all to no avail, nothing was speaking to me!”
One day Mr Phillips realised that he had never visited Wells Cathedral’s historic Chained Library and decided to pay it a visit to see if he would find any dragon-based inspiration amongst the ancient tomes.
The search proved to be fruitless, but as he was about to leave, he spotted a postcard with a wonderful swirling dragon-like figure within an old Bishop’s Crozier.
Thrilled with his postcard find, he thanked the staff and prepared to leave, only to be told that the actual Crozier, belonging to Bishop Jocelyn himself and dating from the 13th-Century, was in a display case on the wall behind him.
Mr Phillips enthused: “My search was over. My mind was blown. I knew right then what to create, and how it would seamlessly integrate itself upon the palace wall in my mind like nothing had even remotely come close to in three-years.”
Mr Phillips is well known in the city for his stunning stained glass art.
His work can be found in many locations in the city, including a set of beautiful wings in the palace gardens, the iconic Rainbow Wings at the Glastonbury Festival, and two stained glass windows at St Joseph & St Teresa Catholic Primary School in Lovers Walk, Wells.
He will now begin working on his new creation, which he expects to be ready for the 800th-anniversary of the building of the palace in 2020.