Piotr Frac

stained glass artist
London, UK

STAINED GLASS IS an art form that has existed since ancient times, with stained glass windows being recorded as early as the 7th century. You can imagine my delight when I got the chance to speak to Piotr Frac, a stained glass artist who mixes traditional methods with modern imagery in his own designs.
I visited him in the community art rooms of St John’s Church on Bethnal Green, which also happened to be located in a crypt. (How cool is that?)

Piotr grew up in Silesia, in the south of Poland. As a child he had always enjoyed drawing, but it was on a school trip to Krakow that he first encountered the beauty of stained glass. Visiting the Wawel Cathedral at ten years old, and seeing the beautiful play of light and colour, Piotr was mesmerised.
It was this experience led him to pursue an art education and to train in conservation and restoration of stained glass at the elite ‘Opus Art’ college and in the University of Silesia. He later moved to the UK seek out more opportunities and it was the need to learn English language that brought him to this exact space at St John’s Church. 

In our conversation, Piotr often brought up the closely related art and craft aspects of stained glass work. His mastery over his craft has meant that his work is often to repair or replace Victorian and Edwardian windows and doors, or even larger restoration work for churches.

However, there are not as many creative avenues or art commissions where he is free to experiment and create something completely different.

“The border between arts and craft is very flexible and always shifting. 
You can’t deny the many talented individuals who do beautiful paintings on glass – it is not purely craft.” 

For Piotr himself, his art is inspired by comics, manga, modern and contemporary art and the Masters. He mixes his love for pop art and graphic looks with the old craft, paying particular attention to lines. “The best part of any work is designing, when you figure out how to translate all the ideas and thoughts into a final cohesive piece.” 
One of his art pieces, one panel of a triptych of gorillas, was shown at the Museum of London’s London Making Now exhibition in 2021. 

Piotr also spreads his love for stained glass by conducting regular workshops. Here he teaches his students the techniques needed, from cutting shapes in glass to using lead and soldering the coloured pieces together. It’s a hands-on opportunity for people to get acquainted with such an old craft. 
While Piotr looks to more ambitious creative projects, it’s easy to see what drew him to stained glass as a medium. Its beauty is limitless: changing with the light, and transforming at different times of the day and with the seasons. It’s easy to be mesmerised. 

Piotr Frac
Visited May 2022, published August 2022.