Thursday, 2 August 2012

John Radecki - Stained Glass Artist - Wollongong Works Tour

National Trust of Australia (NSW) Illawarra Shoalhaven Branch with support from the Illawarra Migration Heritage Project presents John Radecki: Stained Glass Artist The Wollongong Works.

In January 1882 a new Polish family arrived to Wollongong; the family of Victoria and Paul Radeski. The family lived in Young Street and Paul eventually worked in the one of the local coal mine.

While looking for work on day, Paul and one of his sons John went to Kiama as they heard that there may be jobs at the quarry, breaking up stone. They were too late however, and the job had been taken.

Tired and hungry Paul and John were walking back through Dunmore and they stopped at William and Elizabeth James’ house, Bravella. William James, once a Mayor of Shellharbour, helped the men and let them stay overnight at their family farm. William and Elizabeth gave them food and some money  which John used to continue his studies in stain glass window art.

In 1885 John Radecki (he spelt his name with “c”) finished his studies and was employed by Frederick Ashwin who was the owner of J. Ashwin & Co the largest stain glass window company in Sydney. After Frederick Ashwin's death in 1909 John Radecki became the company chief designer and co-owner, and from 1920 until 1954 the owner of the company.

In 1938 John had the opportunity to show his gratitude to William and Elizabeth James for the help he and his father received from them. A new St. Andrews Presbyterian Church was built at Wollongong, and John Radecki was commissioned to do a few windows (some of the windows were brought from the old church). He designed, made, and dedicated one window, the Good Samaritan window, to William and Elizabeth James. Under it he wrote:

“I was a stranger and you took me in. In the grateful remembrance of William James of Shellharbour and his wife Elizabeth who in 1882 befriended artist and his father”.

John Radecki (1855-1955) became an accomplished sketch artist and Australia’s first locally trained stained-glass artist.  He designed and produced some of the finest stained glass windows for public and church buildings in Sydney and country NSW, including Illawarra.

Research and above text from The Illawarra Migration Heritage Project.

A travelling tour of the three central Wollongong churches which contain some of John Radecki’s most personal works starts at St Mary Star of the Sea College Chapel, continues at City Central Church (St Andrew’s Presbyterian) and concludes at St Michael’s Anglican Cathedral, where afternoon tea will be served. Local historian Zofia Laba, will provide commentary throughout the tour on Radecki’s life and works, including a work created in remembrance of a kindness 50 years after the event.

This tour is based on the research conducted by Zofia Laba and Barbara Manzur for the Migration Heritage Project.
Price:   $20 NT members / $25 for non-members

Date:   Saturday 18th August 2012

Time:   1.30pm
Where: The Chapel, St Mary’s Star of the Sea College, 15 Harbour St Wollongong

For Further Information and Bookings please call Gillian on Ph 42274614

The Good Samaritan Window, St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Wollongong.
Photo - Illawarra Migration Heritage Project


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