Glass is a seductive material. It has such remarkable properties that makers who dip their toe in the water often find themselves hooked for life. This exhibition features the work of six outstanding recent graduates – the latest generation to fall under the spell of glass. Some arrived at the material circuitously. Michael Ruh was attracted by its contradictory nature – ‘violent and repelling when molten… cool and tactile when annealed.’ Plasticity is a key feature of both his work and that of Carl Nordbruch, whose twisted and folded sculptural forms capture the fluidity of molten glass. In Nordbruch’s pieces virtuoso spontaneity is counterbalanced by rigorous control of the medium. The crisp layering of colour, and precise differentiation between the interior and exterior, give his sculptures a quasi-architectural feel. All six artists clearly find glass compelling. Partly they are inspired by its pure physicality, the extraordinary ways in which it can be shaped, coloured and infused with light. But what gives their work even greater resonance is the way they exploit the medium to express complex emotional and intellectual ideas. By releasing the creative potential of glass, they find ways of unlocking their own artistic voice. Naoko Sato’s graceful cast ribbed sculptures capture fluidity in suspended animation, evoking the rippling movement of pleated fabrics and the drape of textiles over the human form. Koichiro Yamamoto also uses casting, but his pieces, with their ghostly, surreal, embedded echoes of everyday vessels, are at the other end of the sculptural spectrum, being monumental and still. Sally Fawkes’s concerns are more abstract, although no less personal. Transparency and volume are explored to create a ‘living space… for storing and preserving ideas.’ For her, casting is just the starting point. She speaks of ‘striving to reveal another dimension’ through the process of cutting, carving and polishing the glass. Lesley Wildman’s pieces, which combine delicate fused glass rods with opaque metal, explore the duality of being a twin. ‘My wish is to create the image of tension and inevitable togetherness of two differing elements placed inseparably together to create a single piece.’ In New Glass, technical ingenuity is brought into sharper focus by the rigour of the underlying ideas.
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