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John Petts: Stained Glass Window Designs

"An idea doesn't exist unless you do something about it” John Petts

Stained glass window designs by one of the outstanding wood-engravers of the twentieth century; John Petts, will be on display at The National Library of Wales until 14 December 2013.

Fifty years ago on 15 September 1963, extremist group the Ku Klux Klan planted a bomb at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four black girls attending Sunday school.

This act of terrorism touched the hearts of the people of Wales, particularly artist John Petts in his home at Llansteffan. He offered his services to design and create a new stained glass window for the church, and together with the Western Mail launched a campaign to raise funds for the appeal. The campaign heightened as money poured in from the masses, and the Western Mail published images of Welsh people from all races queuing to personally donate what they could.

Petts visited the church and worked on the design over the course of a year and his window studies and final designs depicting a black Christ with arms outstretched, which was considered controversial at the time will be displayed at The National Library of Wales.

In 1965, the window was installed and dedicated ‘Given by the people of Wales’. Today, the window is known as the ‘Wales Window’ and is an iconic symbol of the American Civil rights movement.

Jaimie Thomas, Exhibitions Officer at The National Library of Wales said:
“These exquisite designs are treasured by the Library on behalf of the nation, not only for their artistic merit and historic worth, but as a symbol of the kindness of the people of Wales. To mark the anniversary, the drawings have recently been conserved and digitised as part of our on-line collection, and visitors to the Library will have an opportunity to see the original designs on show until the end of the year.”

The stained glass window still sits proudly at 16th Street Baptist Church, representing international unity and the lives lost that September in 1963.

Further Information

Elin-Hâf, Press Office 01970 632471 or

John Petts – Stained Glass
14 September– 14 December 2013

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