Tribute to Klaus Zimmer (by Stephen Skillitzi)…


KLAUS ZIMMER 31.3.1928 – 10.11.2007


When a friend and colleague crosses the final frontier from life to

death then memories, acknowledgements, perhaps even regrets, infiltrate

the consciousness of those that remain.  Assisting that celebration of

Klaus’ 79 years of achievements is the ‘must-read’240 page biography

published by McMillan Press in 2000 AD.  It features “an introduction by

Johannes Schreiter, essays by Geoffrey Edwards, Patrick Hutchings, Alex

Selenitsch, Caroline Swash, Jenny Zimmer and a memoir by the artist.”

Outlined therein is a fascinating odyssey of a 24 year old migrant from

his native Germany to Australia in 1952, his excursions to South Sea

Islands and his gradual rise, starting about 35 years ago, to rank with

the pioneering international ‘movers and shakers’ of the Stained Glass

fraternity.  His many commissions, such as the 19 windows and 30

miniatures for St Michael’s Church in Melbourne in 1988, revive

world-weary souls that visit that sanctified oasis.  His numerous

autonomous panels, often highly textural interplays of coloured glass

and metal attest to conceptual maturity and material sensitivity that

extend greatly the traditional ‘language’ of Klaus’ European Stained

Glass heritage.  Supplementing his visual creative outpourings was his

eloquence in word and letter and thought that together are so essential

for motivating his students, for justifying his commissions’ symbolisms

to perhaps-sceptical clients, and for enriching friendships.  Those

admirable, ever-present traits surfaced in Klaus’ introductory welcome

to the 1981 2nd Ausglass Conference held at the then Caulfield Institute

of Technology in his capacity as founding lecturer of its Glass

programme.  With co-organiser Jenny Zimmer, he toured Europe with the

first exhibition of contemporary Australian and New Zealand glass in

1984.  The year 1996 saw Klaus ably debating the Glasmuseum expansions

at Ebeltoft (Denmark) with luminaries Lynggaard, Littleton, Fujita and

Myers.  In his last years Klaus sought a quiet retirement in Adelaide

and at his country retreat with his partner Ingrid, yet he still

energetically completed a major commission for St Patrick’s Cathedral in

Parramatta, NSW, in 2005.  His innovative strength was undiminished as

evidenced by his last extensive series of fresh-visioned new sketches

shown to this writer two months ago, which Klaus realised would require

another lifetime to consummate.

  His recent departure is regretted.

  His enduring legacy is treasured.

  His many honours are deserved.


Stephen Skillitzi



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