I am had a great time at the Contemporary Glass Society Conference in Bexhill on Sea this weekend. I stayed in the wonderful Coast B&B which is luxurious and tasteful, I checked out the charity shops for inspiration as usual and have come away with some books and ornaments that would make anyone who had just been on a course with Michael Rogers weep!
The conference speakers were fabulous – Eva Menz is making impressive work, the emotional energy she invests in her pieces and the struggle she has to reconcile the different worlds she moves between came across powerfully. Her chandeliers are phenomenal.
For me, Richard Meitner was the speaker closest to my own heart. I especially loved his definition of success – “finding something you enjoy doing and learning from it”. He has an ability to cut through a lot of crap and excavate some truths. His work is poetic and honest and has a refreshing integrity. In glass as a medium sometimes the seductiveness and technical aspects glass can drown the feeling, and Richard’s work is an inspiration to anyone trying to make work from the heart.
Simon Moore spoke powerfully about his life as a craftsman working in glass and ceramics and about issues in crafts education today about the standard of skills training that goes on. Many artists and educators working in glass in the UK are very concerned that there is not enough emphasis on teaching skills, that emphasis in colleges seems to be on concept rather than skills, and without skills, concept is unachievable. This whole discussion is very pertinent at a time when we lament the demise of manufacturing in the UK and when so many skills are being lost with passing generations. As an artist moving into glass, the technique and skills necessary to realise ideas are blatantly obvious to me, and the skills level of glass artists moves me beyond words. In particular Anna Dickinson talked about her work which is rarely shown in the UK as she has a contract with Gallerie Von Bartha in Switzerland. Often inspired by architecture and architectural vessels, Anna’s work almost moves me to tears even in a powerpoint lecture!
All in all it was a very good conference and well worth attending. Yesterday I stopped off at Peter Layton‘s new London Glassblowing Gallery near London Bridge to see the amazing Melt exhibition which launches Angela Thwaites new glass casting book. The exhibition shows work by many of the artists featured in Angela’s excellent book and is a fantastic exhibition of contemporary casting by some of the leading practitioners in the field – well worth a visit!
To finish my excursion I went to Vessel Gallery in Nottinghill to see the Living With Glass Exhibition which runs alongside the conference. Again, it was a fine exhibition and shows how vibrant the glass scene is right now with lots of UK makers showing exceptional work.
Now I am back home and settling back into this wonderful landscape. This morning I went walking on the estuary to begin to get back home into my own space after all the excitement and stimulation of the weekend, and to mull over what comes next in the studio…