John Petts: Stained Glass Window Designs

14 September - 14 December 2013

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

John Petts

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. Here are the window studies and final design by Petts, depicting a black Christ with arms outstretched, which was considered controversial at the time. 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.