Pub­lic works

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

Blanche Tilden, Palais Neck­piece, 2010. National Art Glass Col­lec­tion. Pur­chase funded by Wagga Wagga City Coun­cil. On dis­play, National Art Glass Gallery, Wagga Wagga, NSW. There are only a hand­ful of Aus­tralian artists in the col­lec­tion of the Musee des Arts Dec­o­rat­ifs, part of Paris’s Lou­vre, and Blanche Tilden is one of them.

Tilden, a glass­maker and jeweller based in Mel­bourne, says she is “hon­oured” to be in this “dis­cern­ing col­lec­tion”, one of the largest fo­cus­ing on dec­o­ra­tive arts, with work from the Mid­dle Ages, through the Re­nais­sance and art nou­veau and art deco, to con­tem­po­rary times.

Be­ing cho­sen for such a col­lec­tion is, Tilden tells me, a feel­ing that is dif­fi­cult to repli­cate. Like­wise, she vividly re­calls the thrill the first time two of her neck­pieces were pur­chased for an Aus­tralian pub­lic col­lec­tion. That pur­chase was in 1995 for the National Art Glass Col­lec­tion in Wagga Wagga, NSW. Since then, her work also has been ac­quired by ev­ery ma­jor Aus­tralian pub­lic gallery and other sig­nif­i­cant col­lec­tions such as New York’s Corn­ing Mu­seum of Glass.

Tilden, who was born in 1968 in Kiama, NSW, is the grand­daugh­ter and daugh­ter of BHP Port Kem­bla steel­work­ers. Af­ter fin­ish­ing school, she stud­ied glass, gold and sil­ver­smithing at the Aus­tralian National Univer­sity school of art. She then worked with renowned artist Su­san Cohn for two years be­fore set­ting up her own prac­tice in Mel­bourne.

When I speak to Tilden, she says she first be­came fas­ci­nated with glass as a child. “I was brought up as a Catholic and I re­ally liked the light com­ing through the coloured glass win­dows. I was cu­ri­ous about how you make glass and I wanted to make things out of it.”

To gain the level of Tilden’s skill with glass re­quires hours of prac­tice and pa­tience and, as much as she loves the medium, she says it can be a very un­for­giv­ing ma­te­rial.

“Glass­blow­ing is a long process and once you start that process you can’t put it down and go

Flame­worked borosil­i­cate glass, ox­i­dised 925 sil­ver; 22cm (di­am­e­ter)

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