Keith Barley's Story

Author: Keith Barley
Keith Barley's Story

Following Keith's Fellowship in 1986, he has become an Internationally acclaimed leader in developing preservation techniques for medieval glass.

The Fellowship

When working on historic windows at York Minster in the 1970s, Keith Barley became interested in how to prevent condensation from damaging and corroding the delicate glass. During his subsequent research he developed an ‘isothermal' system which maintained near-equal temperatures on either side of the window, which he went on to use to protect the fifteenth-century glass of St Michael's Church, Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire.

The objective of Keith's 1986 Fellowship was to study existing ‘isothermal' installations and find ways of combining the best materials, methods and installation techniques in use at that time to develop a system applicable to the British architectural situation. During his Fellowship, he visited scientists, conservators and engineers in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria. This collaborative effort of conservators, glaziers, scientists and architects, along with his own innovations, led Keith to design a system which makes minimal (and reversible) intervention to the surrounding architecture.

The Results

Since developing this system, Keith has been at the forefront of developing techniques for the preservation of ancient glass. He has given many lectures and trained other experts working in the field. The use of protective glazing is now enshrined in the Conservation Guidelines of the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi (the international body concerned with the study and preservation of medieval stained glass) as "a crucial part of the preventive conservation of architectural stained glass". He is now the Conservation Advisor to the British CVMA as well as a board member of the International Scientific Committee for the Conservation of Stained Glass.

Barley Studio's site specific isothermal protective glazing systems have now been in use for over thirty years, with examples at Durham Cathedral, York Minster, and stately homes such as Longleat House. In 1998 his work at Fairford Church was honoured by the prestigious National Award for Conservation, the only National Award for Conservation to be made in the stained glass discipline. Internationally, Keith has designed systems for The Museum of Fine Art, Boston and St Patrick's Cathedral and The Metropolitan Museum, New York.