Tag Archives: Ely Cathedral

‘Fragments of Inheritance’ by Karin Heyer (Fragment 3, FreeSpace #3)

17 Dec



‘Whatever else it is autobiography is not non-fiction’

(Timothy Dow Adams, Modern Fiction Studies, 40)

Welcome to Karin’s last FreeSpace on ArtiPeeps  in which she has been exploring the relationship between autobiography and fiction through her own autobiographical story ‘Fragments of Inheritance’. Within her three slots on ArtiPeeps she has offered up, in sequence, a part of her story along with an audio reflection of her response to the particular fragment that we have featured. This week it’s Fragment 3 and the concluding part of her story. Karin lived through a very particular part of European history (WWII) and her work engages with very significant subject matter that is universally meaningful and individually personal. We hope you enjoy Karin’s last exploration.


Fragments of Inheritance

Fragment 3



She needed distraction from her thoughts. She chose to go to the City of Ely and visit Ely Cathedral. Along the winding road to this ancient place, suddenly, this magical building rises out of the flat landscape on the right-hand side and after a while the road bends and then strangely the cathedral appears to be on the other side of the road!!! There she is, Ely Cathedral, story of survival, beautiful and wise. She enters with a serious heart, it is Remembrance Day. She walks to the Octagon, turns left into the heart of the place reaching the ‘Showcases of Remembrance’, where on this day the letter ‘M’ mourns the lives of soldiers who lost their lives in WW2.

She lights a candle and remembers them.


living for the evidence of remembrance 1995
mourning: the dead
madness of persecution
lunacy of war
the irreparable destruction of children in war
disrespect for the preciousness of human
life of all kind
forgive or not forgive
but tell your story of that dark time
for the sake of time to come.





 You can find Fragment 1 here and Fragment 2 here



I was born on the 4th of November 1937, just one day before Gun-powder Day! So, I celebrated my entrance with a BANG, yet far away from England then, in fact, in Leipzig, Germany. After the end of the Second World War, Leipzig in Saxony became part of East-Germany, which I left, illegally, in 1953. My family and I settled in West-Berlin, where I went to High-School, when finished there I left Berlin for Cambridge, England. I was a student of English for a while, took a BA Honours Degree in European Thought and Literature and English History at Anglia Polytechnic University, where I also took a MA in Women’s Studies with a Dissertation on German History. I became a teacher of the German Language,Literature and History during my working life. I have now retired from teaching and find myself writing, reading and enjoying life to the full.

As yet Karin does not have a website, but you can make contact with Karin via ArtiPeeps through the comment box on this post or contact form on the ‘What’s On’ Page.


* FreeSpace offers any creative or group from any discipline  3 post slots on ArtiPeeps which can be taken in sequence or in a cluster for showcasing, self-expression or projects (encouraged). If you are interested in taking up a FreeSpace slot in our next run of work please do get in contact via the comment box or contact form on the What’s On Page  You’d be welcomed.

Poems Are like Stained Glass Windows

8 Oct

Trying to work through something quite complicated…

The sky above us was a pristine-sparkle-shimmer blue, so much so that every object pressed against it seemed to be made more explicit-cut out. The sun was edgy-bright,  and its fresh rays shimmered across everything, which made the contrast of the cool, damp cathedral more apparent when we stepped inside. The texture of the air changed-everything became more dense and weighty,

–the service will start in 10 minutes, so you’d better be quick if you don’t want to attend– said the gargoyle-knarled attendant

We walked under the colonnade, quickly,  people started to fill the space, and light shot in-pebble-dashed through the stained glass window to our left,  and then, and then, we stopped. Still. We looked to our right, and there spread across the stone-smooth floor was this:

The patchwork-light coming from the stained glass window was extraordinary. It stopped you in your tracks.It took hold of your breath and made you feel. Wonderment. The otherworldliness of the setting shimmered before you.  The light in relation to the colour made you feel.  Extraordinary. The picture doesn’t do the feeling it gave you justice. Transformation.


Goethe said ‘Gedichte sind wie gemalte Wensterscheiben’. Poetry is  like painted stained glass windows.

Just as the stained glass window maker takes small lozenges of coloured glass  and places them- lead-to-lead- in carefully arranged patterns and creates a whole form (from lozenge, to section, to pane), a poem, a whole complete entity, is pieced together out of carefully chosen pieces (letters, words, sentences, verses). Carefully chosen and particular, the words imbued with emotion and thought by the poet, and then carefully unpacked and re-interpreted by the reader.

Similarly, as the light slick-slacks through the glass,  through the different sections, it illuminates and enlivens a whole- a complete story, or a moment taken from the whole. The stained glassed window is dead without the light.  A poem is dead without the reader. It needs to be illuminated/interpreted, to  have meaning pass through it.  And as the light shines through it and illuminates,  a transformational process occurs. Just like a poem: as we read and we put meaning into it something metamorphic happens- as we place our own meaning into it and let it spread like light through us and turn into something beyond us. The matter that takes your breath away and feel:  like looking at the stone-smooth floor and the shimmering kaleidoscope of colour.

The connections and the patterning all take you somewhere beyond what you’re seeing. You leap ‘out of the static into the dynamic’, Kandinsky.


In his theory of colour Goethe paid particular attention to what he called the ‘after image’, the way colour shapes perception as our brains process what we are seeing, making connections and what those connections create…the after image…. The reflection on  the floor, I think, is like an ‘after-image’. It’s the trail of meaning. How we interpret the blotches of light and the patterning, how our brain and our subjective history imbues the patterning with individual meaning,  is what the window is-not the form itself.  And that particular interpretation and response changes infinitely from person to person, and according to what is going on outside in the world, in nature-as the clouds pass by, as the sun comes out a little bit more. It is all shifting and morphing, and fresh to each person each time. The image, the story portrayed in the glass, is refreshed-never the same.  Over and over again.


Vincent Van Gogh said that ‘poetry surrounds us everywhere’. And the hues of colour  that spread across the cathedral floor made you feel like that.


More Information regarding Bridget Riley


With any piece of poetry or piece of writing, or painting the form matters, the contents matters, what your putting in matters, but I think maybe, it is the ‘after-image’, what is left with you afterwards that  lasts. It’s the mish-mash of ideas and thoughts and feelings that you take with you after you’ve left the form. It’s the inspiration it gives you, or the new way of looking at the world, that sticks. And of course, of course,  you need the form to create it but it’s the going-beyond that that really matters. Doesn’t it?  It’s what you take away and what image sticks with you-or shape-or brush stroke or stitch, or tone.


I suppose what I’m trying to say, to suggest, or attempt to engage with, is that any form of creativity, and the process of that creativity is like light passing through a stained glass window;  a process of transformation from form-to meaning and interpretation to afterglow/after-image. All creativity goes through a process of transformation and leaves an ‘after-image’- whether it’s knitting, putting a car back together, cooking, spraying a curve onto a wall in order to shape a letter… again bits of  ‘something’ are placed in relation to each other and a form made.  The synthesis of  all of that becomes the work. The synthesis occurs not only in the artist/creator doing the creating but also  more amazingly (maybe) in the viewer/perceiver viewing or reading or engaging with the piece of creativity.

I feel like I’m not explaining this very well, that I’m muddying the waters of something that is actually quite simple.  I’m trying to explain a clear precise process of transformation from form, from thing, to  the completely subjective and the spiritual. A cathedral is a perfect place for stained glass and creativity-something that is in us all, in its own way, a source from which you can draw. We are the cathedral, and our creativity is the light. Still.


Here’s what Brian Clarke, a stained glass window artist says:

‘When you see the movement of light passing through stained glass and caressing the surfaces, the shaft of light the trans-illumination touches, it triggers something involuntary in almost anybody. Once that movement has been seen people are moved by it’

Brian Clarke’s website

When we were standing in Ely Cathedral it was not the stained glass window itself that moved us it was the trans-illumination, the bit in between and the bit afterwards, that made us feel.

We turned our back on the pebble-dash of colour, and the glow of the candles placed on the altar under the ochre octagon. We heard our feet, hollow-tap on the smooth stone floor and I gingerly turned the age-old metal handle on the exit door and stepped out into the bright, pristine sunshine once more.  Transformed.

What sort of processes does your creativity go through?

How is meaning created within your creativity?

What sort of after- image does your creativity leave?

How do you want it to make people feel?

I’d like to know……..

All the very best!

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