24 May 2024

A mother's grief behind the Cooktown Anglican Church window

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Christa Palmer

Cooktown Anglican Church warden Christa Palmer commissioned a stained glass window in honour of her late son and parents. Photo: Supplied.

Memories of a beloved son, mother and father pour into the Cooktown Anglican Church in the afternoon light through its exquisite stained glass window.

When the new church was being built last year, warden Christa Palmer requested to design and install a window in dedication to her family and community members.

“We lost our son in 2007, and I’ve lost both my parents, they’re all buried here in the church cemetery,” Ms Palmer said.

She commissioned local artist Kim Fowler to design a window incorporating Cooktown orchids, a birdwing butterfly, a cross and a dove.

“Everything in there has got a symbolic meaning,” Ms Palmer explained.

“When we buried [my son], somebody saw the clouds form a cross, and somebody else saw the clouds form a dove.

“There was also a birdwing butterfly which just kept flying around the coffin.”

She collaborated with other members of the church to ensure the window was special to the entire community.

“It was important to me that they were happy with what I designed, because it’s not only my son and my parents, but it’s also depicting Cooktown, especially with the orchids,” the warden said.

Stained glass window

Symbols of God, love, life, piece and Cooktown came together in the unique piece. Photo: Supplied.

“Most churches have Jesus Christ or angels, but we wanted something that was different and specific to us.”

Every detail, including the swirl of colours used on the piece, was carefully thought out.

“The green depicts earth and the yellow depicts the sun; the sun gives us life and the earth gives us life,” Ms Palmer said.

“You’ll see the edging is red, which represents the blood of Christ.”

The artist, Ms Fowler, said the stunning work had come together over a year.

Stained glass proved to be a challenge in community the size of Cooktown, with glass having to be sourced from bigger towns.

Ms Fowler said glass would often arrive broken, or not the exact shade she was hoping for.

“I’m very particular, and you just never know until you actually put that piece of glass next to another one and hold it up against the light,” Ms Fowler said.

Despite the enormous task, the artist said she was proud to have played a role in making the concept come to life.

“I’ve done a lot over the years, but I’d never done a memorial window that has so much meaning before,” she said.

“I’ve never had an unhappy customer, but Christa and her husband’s reaction was so special and that’s what made me the happiest.”

Stained glass dove

Ms Palmer said the clouds formed a dove at her son’s funeral service, an event which played an important role in the design of the stained glass window. Photo: Supplied.

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