Friday, March 05, 2010

Canberra Glassworks......working on the wallum

engraving, originally uploaded by rebeccathewrecker.

Rebecca the Wrecker and I have just spent 3 days at Canberra Glassworks doing a masterclass with glass artist and teacher extraordinaire Kirstie Rea. We had an amazing inspiring time.

Canberra Glassworks is a state of the art facility based in an old power station. There are so many workshops covering different aspects of glass forming that we didn't get to see them all, the cold shop, the mold making room and the sandblasters were the ones we concentrated on. Once again we came back to our impressions from the wallum as the source of inspiration and made molds for glass using these.

I was particularly interested in the sandblasting which uses a painterly approach as the resist used is PVA glue. For these little pieces I sandblasted brushbox blossom silhouettes onto the back of "float" glass (common window glass) and used a diamond stylise to etch a drawing into the glass on the opposite side.

Glass engraving is such an immediate way of mark making, the scratchiness of the drawing echoes the twiggy scratchiness of wallum vegetation. I really liked using the window glass as the everyday nature of this material creates a subconscious visual reference linking the glass drawing to windows and all that they represent. The automatic assumption with a window being to look through or out of it, hopefully the viewer of this type of piece would be inexorably drawn towards the drawing to looking closely at and through it!

While we were in Canberra we did a talk for the ceramics students at the Australian National university Ceramics Department. Rebecca and I were struck by the vibrant, international diversity at both ANU and the Glassworks. The place is buzzing with international artists coming and going, Australian artists and students are constantly encouraged to make international connections in terms of residencies and, entering competitions and other professional development programs. It is very exciting for studio artists to be in the hustle and bustle of a creative, institutional atmosphere and I highly recommend anyone thinking of coming to Australia to consider doing a residency or a degree at Canberra Glassworks or ANU.

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