Kevin Gordon, Wild Horse (2011). National Glass Collection, Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, NSW. Donated through the Australian government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the Clancy family in memory of John F. Clancy. On display. When Kevin Gordon migrated from Scotland at age 12 he knew nothing about Australia except for having watched a few episodes of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.
The television series was perhaps not the best preparation for life in Perth, but in 1980 he landed there with his parents and brother.
His parents, Rish (Patricia) and Alastair Gordon, were internationally renowned glass artists and they had decided to migrate because of their connection with the Australian glass art community. Gordon’s sister, Eileen, had studied glassblowing in England and she eventually migrated too.
Given the family preoccupation with glass, it is not surprising that as a youngster Gordon spent time drifting in and out of his parents’ studio.
However, when he was 18 he decided to take glass more seriously and started training with his father. Initially he worked with architectural glass, doing hotel and pub windows. In the early 1990s he established his own studio and developed the ideas and techniques that eventually would catapult him to global recognition.
Gordon now is considered one of Australia’s leading glass artists. He exhibits in The Netherlands, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Britain, Sweden and North America. His work is also included in numerous international and national collections.
What sets Gordon apart from many other Blown glass, overlaid colour, wheel cut, sandblasting, carved, brush and felt polish; 32cm x 25cm x 25cm glass artists is his distinctive style. He is taking glass “beyond the expected”, according to the National Gallery of Australia’s senior curator of decorative arts and design, Robert Bell. Gordon works in engraved, multi-layer cameo glass. This is a glass decorating technique that was popular in 19th-century France but is used by very few designers and artists in Australia because of its technical complexity and lengthy production times.
Much of Gordon’s work is inspired by designs in nature. “As life was first formed in the oceans, it is there that we find the basic structures and designs that still resonate in so much of our lives,” he explains. He also has a fascination with the mathematical formulas of com- puter-assisted design and has studied the idea of fractals and Mandelbrot theory where designs are produced by the repetition of a few basic variations in pattern.
One of Gordon’s works, Wild Horse, is in the National Glass Collection, situated on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, part of the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery. When I visit the gallery, I’m shown the work by glass curator Michael Scarrone, who says Gordon is a “really special glassmaker”.
“Other glassmakers are in awe of his work,” says Scarrone. “Whenever we have an exhibition and there is a people’s choice award, Kevin would win it every time. His work is so heavily layered conceptually and technically. Kevin’s work is a standout.”
Scarrone says Wild Horse is very detailed and embraces a lot of technique. Gordon layers colours on top of colours, then engraves through the colour to expose the brilliant range of blue hues with a swirling image of a horse.
“It is a lot of work to produce one work but it is worth it because it is a phenomenal, stunning work,” says Scarrone.
“He uses old, traditional techniques and brings generations of technique from his mum and dad.”