Renowned artist and designer Helen Whittaker is highly regarded for her new stained glass windows and architectural sculpture in glass and copper. With an aim to engage the viewer through good design and craftsmanship, the artist creates energy and movement intertwining contemporary and traditional elements. Her designs are inspired by the client, the brief and the building, whether housed in historic or modern buildings, in ecclesiastical or secular contexts. As Creative Director at the highly acclaimed Barley Studio in York, Whittaker heads a multi-skilled team alongside Managing Director Keith Barley MBE.
Whittaker earned her MA in Visual, Islamic and Traditional Arts from the University of Wales, from her studies at the Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture. Her BA, with a specialism in three-dimensional design using glass and ceramics, is from the University of Sunderland, a Centre of Excellence and the largest glass and ceramics department in Europe.
With 25 years of experience in stained glass creation and restoration painting, Whittaker has completed at least 100 commissions across the UK. In the summer of 2018, one of her stained glass windows was displayed in Buckingham Palace. Recently Whittaker collaborated with David Hockney for his art work in Westminster Abbey, The Queen’s Window and was featured in a BBC documentary about the window. One of her pieces of art, commemorating The Role of Women in the Royal Air Force was formally unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
A Craft Scholar of the Prince’s Foundation, Whittaker has received the prestigious Hancock Medal for High Achievement. She has won several awards (including a commission) through the highly competitive Stevens Competition, and more recently has acted as judge and Chairman of the Judges. Whittaker is a Fellow of the British Society of Master Glass Painters and a Court Member (the executive body) of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers, a leading Livery Company of the City of London, whose existence was first recorded in 1328. She presented the Stained Glass Museum 2020 Annual Lecture, has given a Ted Talk and recently addressed the Art workers Guild in London.
ToYG podcast was able to speak with Whittaker in between her work on current projects for All Saints Church, Wetheringsett cum Brockford, Suffolk, and Lily Chapel, Manila, Philippines.