Roper, Frank

Frank Roper, detail from south nave window (c.1987), Church of All Saints, Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan.
Photo: Peter Hildebrand

Frank Roper OBE (1914-2000) was a versatile and prolific sculptor and stained glass artist, whose work can be found in cathedrals and churches across England and Wales, as well as in museums and private collections.

Roper was born in Yorkshire and studied at Keighley Art School and at The Royal College of Art. Although he wasn’t complimentary of the latter, saying that “It rail-roaded students into one way of seeing. Space for accommodation of their skills was so limited; it took me ten years to compensate for those years.”

‘Temporary’ teaching roles after the war led him to The School of Art in Cardiff in 1947, where he would remain until his retirement a Vice Principal in 1973.

Home was a house in Penarth, with the ground floor turned into his workshop and the family living on the first floor. There he developed a particular interest in aluminium, both for his sculptures and, more unusually, for his stained glass windows, with an aluminium structure being used to contain the glass rather than the more usual lead cames. This structure, when combined with an absence of paint, lends his windows a very distinctive appearance.

He had a particularly productive relationship with George Pace, which led to a number of commissions, including the dramatic Lady Chapel reredos (1965) at Llandaff Cathedral and a gilt aluminium reredos of the Last Supper at St Martin-le-Grand, York (1968). The latter, which was initially relegated to the west end of the building for being too avant-garde , now sits proudly in front of Harry Stammer’s east window.

Frank Roper’s obituary in The Guardian, 11 December 2000
Frank Roper on Wikipedia
Catalogue of the Methodist Church Collection of Modern Christian Art, with an account of the Collection’s history by Roger Wollen (2003).  Published by the Trustees of the Methodist Collection of Christian Art.