Pauline Solven

It was in 1969, a year after I had left the Royal College, while working with  Brandt in her glass studio in Sweden, that I had a letter from Sam Herman inviting me to be Manager and resident artist at the Glasshouse studio/gallery which was being established in Covent Garden.
In the summer, I took up the post, which initially meant helping to build equipment, and by November it was up and running. My duties included producing a quota of blown pieces every week, display, dealing with the public, and selling. It was a challenging job to say the least - but good experience for running my own studio.

Initially used mainly by postgraduates from the RCA and students, the new studio was enthusiastically received, with considerable press interest, beneficial to the project, and of course helpful to me in my early career. I met my husband, Harry Cowdy, who filmed in the studio for BBC TV.

Before long a full-time manager was employed, and I was one of a number of glassmakers who used the facilities on a part-time basis, our glass being sold on commission in the gallery.

My experience at The Glasshouse had a profound effect on my subsequent work and career. It was physically and administratively in close contact with the British Crafts Centre (CAA) - I was accepted as a member, and have been an exhibitor at CAA ever since.

Artistically the experience was invaluable - I was able to work freely initiating a technique of applying colour which I later employed in most of my blown work.

In 1975, I left to establish my own studio in Gloucestershire, but continued to show at The Glasshouse, having my first solo exhibition there the same year. Three years later, Harry and I established Cowdy Glass Workshop for which I designed functional work, selected for the Design Centre, and then founded Cowdy Gallery where I have curated numerous glass exhibitions over the years.

For me the great appeal of glassblowing as an art medium was its immediacy.
After thirty five years working this way however, I decided in 2004 that it was time for a change. I sold my furnace, purchased a kiln, and embarked on a new strand of work in the form of fused panels. While my methods are no longer spontaneous, there is for me a logical progression. The designs for my blown vessels had often come from 2D imagery given form during blowing, and conversely I would often cut up vessels and flatten and fuse the components. The themes continue in similar vein, but the use of colour has developed - whereas before I was interested in painterly colour and effects, I am now exploring the layering of colours and working with a stronger more positive palette.

1943, London

1961-1965 Stourbridge College of Art (NDD Glass)
1965-1968 Royal College of Art (M Des RCA Glass)

2000 Corning Museum-New Glass Review No 21
1998 Honourable Mention.International Exhibition Glass,Kanazawa,Japan
1996 Corning Museum-New Glass Review No 17
1993 Corning Museum-New Glass Review No 14
1983 Craft Award,South West Arts
1978 British Design Council Index
1977 Commendation,Coburg Glass Prize Exhibitions
1975 Bursary,West Midlands Arts
1975 Equipment Grant,British Crafts Council
1971 C.A.C. (British Crafts Council) Index Collections

1999 Glass U
Brandt Contemporary Glass, Sweden
Summer Show Cowdy Gallery,Newent
Still Light Plumbline Gallery,St Ives
2000 Spring Fever   Contemporary Applied Arts,London
2001 A Celebration of Glass Cowdy Gallery,Newent
2003 Nine Colourways Blackwell House,Bowness-on-Windermere
30/30 Vision Crafts Council, London/UK tour
All That Glisters Is Not Gold Six Chapel Row Gallery, Bath
2004 Collect Crafts Council, V & A Museum, London
Suspended in Light Rufford Craft Centre,Newark
2006 British Glass Biennnale Ruskin Glass Centre,Stourbridge
2007 Collect Dan Klein at Adrian Sassoon,V & A Museum New Work
Gallery Artists
Cowdy Gallery, Newent

Corning Museum of Glass,New York
Ulster Museum,BeIfast
Museum of South Australia
Broadfield House Glass Museum,Kingswinford
Victoria & Albert Museum,London
Castle Museum,Norwich
Shipley Art Gallery,Gateshead
Otago Museum,Dunedin,New Zealand
Crafts Council Collection,London
Howarth Art Gallery, Accrington
City Museum,Bristol
St Helens Museum & Art Gallery
Museum of Veste Coburg,Germany
Museum of Decorative Arts,Prague
Castle Museum,Nottingham                              
Stoke-on-Trent Museum & Art Gallery  
Glass Museum,Ebeltoft,Denmark                        
North West Arts Collection
Volvo Collection, Eskilstuna, Sweden                           
Brandt Contemporary Glass, Sweden
City Museum,Portsmouth                                           
Cowdy Collection, Newent
Liverpool Museum                                                     
Dan Klein & Alan J. Poole (Private Collection)
TSB Group PLC Corporate Collection London

1980 Lesley Adamson, Master Glass, THE GUARDIAN
1981 Dillon Clarke, The Actual British Glass Scene, NEUES GLAS
1981 Peta Levi, The Vitreous Art World, HOUSE AND GARDEN
Elizabeth Benn, Glamorous Glass from the Country, DAILY TELEGRAPH
1983 Charles Allen, Directions, NEUES GLAS
1984 Pamela Johnson, Paintings in Glass, CRAFTS
1989 Sally Watts, Cowdy Glass Finds Niche in the Crafts Enterprise Culture, THE TIMES





Search the site