A Celebration of Glass
Picking six contemporary British glassmakers to mark a fifteenth anniversary and yet also present the diverse nature of British glassmaking has been a challenge and a pleasure. Glassmaking has reached a new maturity in the last decade and the choice is enormous.
It was important, I think, to show the variety of techniques and the breadth of visual sources which are the vocabulary of glass. But most important I wanted a stimulating, balanced show, by makers whom I respected and felt comfortable with, and whose work might come together without imbalance. This is not to say that I do not expect some surprises – an unexpected emphasis or unforeseen axis. Indeed it could be disappointing if this 50th celebration is not seen as an opportunity to create a few waves.
The makers are well established, but their carriers are nevertheless at different points. Perhaps Tessa Clegg and Alison Kinnard – opposite poles – are the most senior. Clegg has made a radical change in her work recently, breaking away from her exclusive commitment to the perfect bowl-form; Kinnard continues to build on her extraordinary repertoire of images and formidably engraving skill. Rachel Woodman, designer and glassmaker has, in her personal work, also made a break with her past in de-constructing forms and developing an entirely new palette. Sara Macdonald and Galia Amsel are the youngest and provide an interesting contrast – Macdonald working virtually two-dimensionally in an individual technique which, curiously, gives depth to pattern; Amsel in exploring three dimensional landscape. Bob Crooks, the only man and the only hot-glass maker is, appropriately enough, very different.
Effervescent, impatient and enthusiastic, his strengths are in instant production and a rapid turnover of ideas and his glass is immediate, glittering and attention seeking. Like all curators of these anniversary shows, I wait with anticipation to see what arrives on the day.
Jennifer Opie 1998
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