The historic stained glass windows of Sydney’s Town Hall building will undergo restoration, ensuring the conservation of an early Australian art style.
Built to celebrate the centenary of 1888, Sydney Town Hall’s collection of stained glassed windows are considered some of the finest 19th century stained glass in Australia.
The stunning vestibule dome designed and manufactured in Australia in 1877 by John Falconer and Frederick Ashwin of Pitt Street, is the only example of a curved stained glass dome in Australia.
High above the double-storey space, the dome is decorated with 12 leadlight panels, each individually hand painted with a symbolic figure representing the four elements of Air, Earth, Fire and Water and eight female figures representing the virtues of Justice, Temperance, Industry, Prudence, Peace, Plenty, Trust and Liberty.
French artist Lucien Henry, who is renowned for leading the popularity of Australian style decorative arts, was commissioned to design the two inspirational stairwell window panels flanking Centennial Hall.
One window features the images of Captain Cook and the HMS Endeavour, and a female figure called ‘Oceania’, while on either side there are Australian wildflowers including waratahs, stenocarpus and lambertia. These panels are adorned with the words ‘Advance Australia’ and the dates of the centenary (1788-1888).
“Sydney Town Hall is a major landmark in the heart of the city, with its steps one of Sydney's best-used meeting points,” says lord mayor Clover Moore.
“As one of the grandest historical buildings in Australia, and with its extensive examples of early Australian design and art, Sydney Town Hall’s cultural importance cannot be underestimated.”
The works represent the final stage of a broader three-stage conservation project that began in 2012. Earlier conservation works were carried out on the Clock Tower and the east and north facades.
Other restoration work will include stonework repairs to the southern and western facades of the building, and repairs to the roof top, northern stairs and the structure of the vestibule dome.
The final construction stage is expected to start in early 2020, taking two to three years for the sandstone work, and four to five years for the stained glass windows.
Photography by Katherine Griffiths, City of Sydney