Pub­lic works

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Visual Arts - Bron­wyn Wat­son

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.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.