2nd July - 24th September
An exciting exploration of glass by makers at the cutting edge of contemporary glass design. Highlighting beautiful collections from makers who explore colour, technique, materials and form in their works.
Morpheus Glass – Stephanie Bowen
Layers of glass powders, sheets of glass, foils and glass grains all combine to create beautiful effects within Stephanie's fused glass. Designs are laid out onto sheets of glass and the materials are built up in layers to produce the overall look that the piece of fused glass will have. The fusing process involves applying heat to the finished creation in order to combine all the components together. Every piece of fused glass is different and depending on the scale of the piece and how many firings are involved will determine how long it takes to produce. Generally speaking a piece will take several hours to layout and design prior to firing and may be involved in multiple firings over a period of time in order to complete the finished piece of fused glass. Each and every piece of fused glass has its own characteristics and two pieces can never be exactly the same as each other that is the beauty of the process. There are several elements of the process which contribute to the individuality factor including materials used as well as positioning for firing. Bubbles, for example, are a fantastic natural occurrence within the layers of glass during the fusing process, they can be controlled to an extent using careful kiln programming and special materials but you never can be 100% certain of where one might appear, which is a great feature both for the artist and the customer.
From the age of 5, Catriona knew that Art was something very special to her. She had loved to draw from when she was old enough to hold a pencil. Her passion for glass came while studying for her Design and Applied Arts Degree at Edinburgh College of Art. She really enjoys the layering qualities that glassblowing encourages and uses colour techniques and glass carving to create three-dimensional worlds within each form. Catriona’s work is created to be cheerful, bold and full of texture. Catriona's inspirations come from the world around her, and the sanctuary she finds within certain environments; walking in the woods in her native Scotland, or sitting having a coffee next to the graffiti of Bristol. She likes the juxtaposition of these different themes, and uses opposites throughout her work. This can evolve from a contrasting colour or surface texture, to the use of light and obscuring of light. Opaque glass has always had importance in her creative development and likes the way it can look like ceramics. Catriona would describe herself as a maker first;a skilled Craftswoman. In 2013 she was honoured to win the Silver Award for Glass from the Craft & Design Magazine
and more recently was awarded a place on the Crafts Council UK’s Hothouse 5 mentoring programme. This invaluable knowledge has helped her with her own Craft Business. In 2016 the filmakers R&A Collaborations have picked Catriona as one of their artists to capture on film. The film 'Dance of Glass' is available online via vimeo www.vimeo.com/158639806
Vinegar & Brown Paper
From his studio in Yorkshire, contemporary glass etcher Andy Poplar takes iconic items of glassware and brings them to life with the tools of wit, wordplay and a slightly askew way of looking at the world. After an award winning career in advertising, he decided he’d reached the end of his creative tether and quit. Then one day he had an idea about etching glass and so came about Vinegar & Brown Paper.
"I’m eight years old and in my grandad’s sun-filled workshop. Rows of shelves with screws in tins, neatly labelled jars sat in lines. Tools hanging from hooks. Racks of salvaged wood. Saws piled on nails. Dismantled machines, dismantled furniture. Nothing thrown away, everything to hand. The smell of grease, wax, polish, paint, possibilities. I’m 39 now and when I sit in my own studio I experience exactly the same sensations. Yes, I know how lucky I am. I’ve been working as [vinegar & brown paper] for nearly three years. I’m well aware that the studio is really just the inside of my head poured into a room. Four walls filled with things I’ve picked up along the way, fuelled by obsessions that I can trace back to being a teenager. A place I can be who I am. There’s a quote from Chuck Palahniuk that goes: "The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will." Which I guess sums things up for me at the moment. My biggest hope is that in a long, long time from now my daughter will pick up a piece of [vinegar & brown paper] etched glass and remember how it felt to be inside her dad’s studio when she was a kid."
"I am interested in textiles, especially clothing. Fabric preserves the essence of its maker; traces of the wearer become entwined with the warp and weft, allowing physical objects to become containers for memory. This interest in fabric and embroidery started with some family heirlooms: a collection of beautiful and intricate Irish white work hand made by female relations. More recently, an embroidered christening robe that has been in my family for over hundred years inspired a major body of work. Through this work I examined my family links and ties to the past. I examined how delicate life is, and how the states of birth and death can be similar in their fragility and vulnerability. I found glass, with its perceived fragility, yet apparent strength, to be the perfect material to express such notions." Alison employs a range of techniques to create her sculptures, working with cast glass and pate de verre. Both techniques involve many processes and sometimes the failure rate can be high; “Frequently I open the kiln after a firing and the piece hasn’t fired the way I wanted it too. Sometimes glass refuses to be tamed and insists on doing its own thing. I think the challenge is partly the reason I like working with it!”
‘Pate de verre’ is French for glass paste and is the technique of using crushed glass packed tightly into moulds and fused in the kiln. The resulting works are usually thin walled vessels or sculptures. Alison sometimes takes a mould directly off a fabric or garment, but this can destroy the material. The moulds can only be used once and these pieces have a high failure rate. To finish them she can sometimes spend many weeks sand blasting an individual piece.
Pia was born in Germany, where she lived with her Finnish mother, German father, sister and brother. With a home in both countries, she spent much time travelling, enjoying the contrast between her two cultures. At the age of 15 she moved to England to complete her school years, continuing onto a foundation year of studies in Glass, Ceramic and Metal at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design. This was followed by her Undergraduate studies in Furniture Design and
Craftsmanship at Bucks New University, where she diversified her skills into mixed media, combining the traditional woodworking methods with various other crafts for her final degree show in 2008. Upon finishing she set up her own studio in North Karelia, Finland, working with various local craftsmen for Piadesign. In 2009 Pia returned to the UK for her postgraduate at the Royal College of Arts in Design Products. Her work continued with research into crafts in the contemporary world; finding new applications for the traditional processes as well as inventing new ones.
"In 1980 I went to the North Staffordshire Polytechnic to study Ceramics. I loved the material but being of an impatient nature I was getting frustrated with the length of time that the process took. Next door was the studio glass workshop. It was a hot noisy and an exciting place to be, but most importantly the process was immediate. A piece could be made one day and got out of the kiln the following day to start cold working on. I tried to fight my growing interest in the medium but eventually had to give in. Here began my affair with hot glass. The techniques were hard to learn and at times it seemed an impossible task to acquire the enough technical skills not to inhibit my creativity but not to become so bogged down in technique that the work would become static and lifeless. I loved the energy of glass. On finishing my degree I went to the heart of the British glass industry, Dudley near Stourbridge in the Midlands. Here I did a traditional course on glass making which gave me my own skills that I needed to really start making my own work."
Samantha remakes familiar shapes (milk bottles and pop bottles) using traditional cut crystal techniques. The end results are beautiful reminders about the value of individuality. Each piece is hand blown and hand cut in 24% lead crystal. Whilst the same size as traditional milk and pop bottles, the 24% lead crystal glass has much more weight and clarity. The bottles are blown into a rotational mould to give consistency of shape and annealed slowly to eliminate stresses in the glass. When cool, they can be marked out with a design pattern to be cut into the surface. The patterns are carefully planned, but the making process ensures that each bottle will be unique.
Hayley has been working full time in glass since completed her studies in 2009. She has worked with master glass blowers across the UK learning the craft of handmade glass blowing. Hayley has a thirst for learning new techniques and she considers this her main influence; constantly developing her work as her knowledge and skill grows. She has developed a range of work that use intense colours within simple forms and has a growing appreciation of the use of coldworking techniques; for example, cutting and polishing skills. A recurring theme in Hayley's work is the introduction of a ‘windows of transparency’ in a primarily opaque form. Transparency and reflection are beautiful qualities in glass that she likes to capture in her ranges. "Of all the qualities of glass I find colour to be one of the most attractive properties. The ability to combine and contrast a bright and bold pallet within a piece is found throughout my designs.”
Every piece of glass is an expression of Stephen’s creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated for their beauty and emotive power. Of all the materials man has created, Stephen feels it is only glass that can compete with the beauties found in nature. Stephen has an insatiable appetite to explore the exciting medium of glass, to create expressive objects of beauty that are uniquely designed and completely made by his hands. “Always focused on skilfully producing, superior quality, dynamic shapes, exciting interiors and captivating surfaces, I am hopefully setting new standards whilst preserving old traditions. Glass to me is the most captivating material to look at to and work with. If you are being true to the material, then you find much inspiration will come from the glass itself. I try to exploit the inherent qualities of transparency and fluidity whilst letting light dance across its surface and through its inner world, capturing a moment in time.”
And alongside this show we highlight inspiring mixed media wall hung works by two inspiring makers...
Jessica graduated from Norwich University of the Arts in 2014 with specialisms in hand stitching and embellishment. She enjoys creating highly textural and weighted fabrics making the most of the treasures that DIY and plumbing shops have to offer. Creating her fabrics using hand skills alone is important within her work, as it is extending the traditional roots that embroidery offers but using stitches in a way that pulls them into a more contemporary light. Tactility is a key concept of her practice and she creates pieces that play on the way that they feel and drape against the body or against other surfaces. Colour is also a focal point within her textiles; using sharp acidic tones, flecking fabrics with metallic accents and using explosions of vivid contrasts to make the fabrics come alive to the viewer. Stretching the possibilities of stitch is encompassed within all her work; she creates large scale, fully encrusted pieces of fabric using as many combinations of unusual components as she can possibly include. "My aim is to make the viewer want to touch the textiles, to intrigue their curiosity and to saturate their brains with colour and texture."
Angela grew up in the Northwest of England and completed a Textile Design Degree at Leeds University. She enjoys using a wide range of materials, hues, textures and assembly methods to develop a style of mosaic that encompassed these techniques, bringing shape and relief to create contemporary art pieces. Angela gains inspiration from nature and human form through folk art and style movements. “For me, mosaic as a medium, is an exploration of choice and selection to create an effective and durable solution, through picking, cutting, laying and combining materials. The art form also reacts with its environment through the reflection of light giving an extra fascination.”