“An idea doesn’t exist unless you do something about it”
John Petts (1914-1991)
On 10.22 am on Sunday 15th April 1963 an explosion at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama killed four young girls and injured many others. The dynamite was laid by white supremacists in what was the worst of a series of terrorist acts against the Civil Rights Movement whose activities were centred in the city. Convictions connected to the case were not completed until 2002, one suspect dying before he could be tried.
Outrage at the incident was felt around the US and the world. Artist John Petts offered his services to design and create a memorial stained glass window. Petts, a London-born artist and designer who settled in Wales and significantly contributed the country’s culture and life, contacted a Welsh national newspaper who successfully raised the money for the project made up of many individual contributions from the people of Wales.
Petts worked for a year on the design, consulting with the church on the design that was innovative for its time in depicting a black Christ. It remains in place today apparently known as ‘The Wales Window’.
I am so familiar with the cover 1957 cookbook pictured above. Produced by the Welsh Gas Board it has become a source book for traditional Welsh recipes from beetroot wine to limpet pie. It was only in the last few days I gave the design any attention to discover that it is credited to John Petts, based on the familiar Welsh flannel design (although the book says quilt). So I read about the link to the Alabama bombing.
Happy St. David’s Day, the national day of Wales.