‘One Swallow Does Not a Summer Make’


Irene McBride is fascinated by the beauty of wings in the natural world and how they allow bodies to keep airborne and to travel, in some cases for remarkable distances at a time. Regarded as the heralder of summer, the activities, beauty and charm of the swallow never cease to amaze.  Unfortunately, their numbers have been in decline for 50 years due to many reasons which include farming practices and climate change.


Irene has created this panel in response to the theme of “PATHWAYS” as the path of the migrating swallow from Southern Africa is certainly a challenging one.  They fly over the Congo rainforest, Sahara Desert, Morocco, Spain and western France in order to arrive in Ireland. Their 6,000 mile journey can create many dangers that can include inclement weather, predators, exhaustion, starvation and even collisions with manmade obstacles such as lighthouses and oil/gas platforms at sea.


This stained glass panel has been created using intrinsically beautiful hand-made glass. The inherent qualities and variations in this glass add another dimension to her visual story which she has annotated with original narrative.


Irene used the Grisaille painting technique with its traditional tracing and matting which has been employed since the Middle Ages, with the addition of some transparent coloured enamel in 3 kiln  firings at 600C. She chose to traditionally hand build the panel with lead came and cement and is either freestanding on its accompanying metal base or suitable for hanging at a window.


Her aim was to create a celebration of our beloved summer swallow and their celestial flightpath. May we see more of them.


Dimensions: 32 x 28 x 1cm (this does not include the stand)


Artist Bio

Irene is a glass artist based in Co. Down who create unique pieces of glass using traditional and modern practices and techniques. These include leading, “Tiffany”/copper-foil work, kiln-formed glass, hand engraving, painting, and stained glass. Her visual response to the world is through the diverse and exacting medium of glass. The detail and patterns in nature are to her as inspirational as the expanse of land and seascapes, as an avid beachcomber, she see authenticity and beauty in found objects. These “objets trouves” often become integral elements of her finished work.