Lee, Cathy

Cathy Lee, "A clooth of gold that bright shoon", Stevens Competition Commission Winner, 2023
Photo: Cathy Lee

Stevens Competition Commission Winner 2023

Cathy Lee is the proud winner of the Stevens Competition Commission for 2023.

The 2023 Stevens Competition was a co-operation between the Glaziers’ and Mercers’ Company to create two architectural glass panels to be installed in the reception area of a major office development that the Mercers’ Company is currently constructing in the City of London.

The panels will form a key design element in the reception area to the new complex which will be finished to a high standard of contemporary design. The Mercers’ Company will be working with Cathy Lee to finalise the design before commissioning the fabrication and installation of the panels as an integral part of the construction programme.

A sample panel made for the competition is shown opposite. The Artistic Statement accompanying the entry is here, along with a copy of the design and a presentation of how the panels may look in situ.


Artistic development

Cathy Lee has an extensive artistic background. She received a MA in History of Art from Birkbeck College, University of London, before completing the ‘Art Foundation’ course at Chelsea College of Art in 1996/97. This provided her with  a year of artistic experimentation. More recently she has taken classes at the Prince’s School of Traditional Art, mostly learning gilding techniques but also egg tempera, marquetry, geometry and wood inlay (which she finds “surprisingly similar to glazing”).  She learned Heraldry at Reigate College of Art with Gerald Mynott and verre eglomisé with Rian Kanduth at City and Guilds of London Art School. She is currently studying for the Certificate/ Diploma at the Royal School of Needlework. As this list suggests, she believe other arts and crafts can influence her glass practice.

Away from stained glass Cathy Lee works as a family mediator and a qualified London Guide (City, Westminster and Blue Badge). She also makes podcasts (having been a journalist) about unusual sites in London.  She says a particular pleasure has been sharing the stained-glass treasures of the churches in the City of London with visitors, and it is London, its people, geography and architecture, that inspires most of her stained glass work. The work she is presently designing focuses on social issues that she witnesses as a mediator and has experienced as a journalist.

Since 2018 her glass practice has been guided by the Piotr Frac Stained Glass Worksop in East London, which has allowed her to “quietly and enthusiastically study the transformative craft of glazing and painting”. The commission from the Mercer’s Company is her first major commission and she says it has “given me confidence and encouragement to illuminate windows for buildings and spaces that need them and to encourage others to break into (not literally) the world of stained glass.”


The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and the Stevens Competition

The Worshipful Company of Glaziers first appears in written records in 1364-65 during the reign of Edward III, when the emphasis was on the protection of the personal economic welfare of Glaziers. However, in recent times the focus has shifted to the preservation of the heritage of stained glass and to the support of education in architectural glass art, design and conservation.

In 1932 the Company launched an annual competition for young artists, which from 1972 operated under the banner of the Stevens Competition. The competition provided an opportunity for aspiring architectural glass artists, designers, and craftsmen to compete in a format which simulated the process typically undertaken in order to obtain a commercial commission.