Heart of Glass

Thanks to the in­tro­duc­tion of 3D print­ing and a re­vival of long-lost pro­duc­tion tech­niques, art glass is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a re­nais­sance.

Robb Report (Malaysia) - - Ideal Homes & Art - By josh sims

For a long time art was some­thing you hung on your walls, not put on your shelves. Glass, in par­tic­u­lar, was side­lined as a craft. But opin­ions and mar­kets are shift­ing. Look to cer­tain names - Toots Zyn­sky and Stanislav Liben­sky, for ex­am­ple - and prices at auc­tion that are well above £10,000 (S$18,000) might be ex­pected.

“I’ve just had sev­eral big col­lec­tors in and they’re snap­ping pieces up,” says An­gel Mon­zon, di­rec­tor of Ves­sel ( www.ves­sel­gallery.com), a Lon­don gallery spe­cial­is­ing in art glass. “And what they’re buy­ing is in­ter­est­ing, not the more ob­vi­ous pieces at all - maybe those that mix glass with other ma­te­ri­als to cre­ate new ty­polo­gies. El­ton John bought a very nice piece.”

In part this boom has come about for prac­ti­cal rea­sons: more af­ford­able, com­pact and eco­nom­i­cal fur­naces have come onto the mar­ket. Re­mark­ably, while artists work­ing in stone, for ex­am­ple, have found their raw ma­te­rial costs to be largely static, those work­ing in glass have been sub­ject to fluc­tu­a­tions in the price of gas. Ac­cord­ing to glass artist Kate Jones, one half of Gil­lies Jones ( www.gilliesjones­glass.co.uk), dis­tri­bu­tion has be­come more or­gan­ised too, with the open­ing of more gal­leries spe­cial­is­ing only in glass, and the ma­jor auc­tion houses

Glass, in par­tic­u­lar, was side­lined as a craft.

more in­ter­ested in sell­ing it. The gi­ants of dec­o­ra­tive glass­mak­ing - from Kosta Boda and Or­refors in Swe­den, to Lalique and Bac­carat ( www.bac­carat.com) in France - have ar­guably also made a push away from the clas­si­cal to­wards the more con­tem­po­rary.

“My im­pres­sion of Bac­carat was prob­a­bly what lots of peo­ple think - a com­pany with a long his­tory but a bit past it,” as Daniela Ric­cardi puts it of her time be­fore join­ing as its man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. “Yet it is wak­ing up the more mod­ern side which has been in hid­ing.”

But this re­nais­sance in glass­ware has also come about be­cause in­de­pen­dent glass artists are push­ing to make more in­ter­est­ing and di­verse work, some­times a prod­uct of a cross- dis­ci­plinary back­ground. Lena Bergstrom, for ex­am­ple, was well-re­garded for her work in tex­tiles be­fore be­ing head­hunted by Or­refors.

Mod­ern tech­nol­ogy - the use of 3D scan­ning, for ex­am­ple - has also helped some mak­ers pro­duce more elab­o­rate pieces; equally, other artists have sought to re­vive long-lost pro­duc­tion tech­niques, from kiln-form­ing and sand- blast­ing to cop­per wheel abra­sion.

This last method - the old­est en­grav­ing tech­nique dat­ing to the 16th cen­tury - is used by glass artist Heather Gille­spie ( www.

In­de­pen­dent glass artists are push­ing to make more in­ter­est­ing and di­verse work.

gille­spie­glass.co.uk), for in­stance. “Not many peo­ple know about it and to the un­trained eye the re­sults can look much like those from much cheaper sand-blast­ing,” she says. “But col­lec­tors are look­ing for that kind of dif­fer­ence. There’s a push to­wards more high-end art glass now be­cause table­ware has come to be dom­i­nated by masspro­duced items from wwchina.”

As Jones has it: “There’s still that love of ma­te­rial and process, but it’s in re­ally mas­ter­ing those that you get to the art, and peo­ple are start­ing to un­der­stand that.”

Cer­tainly pieces from this ris­ing gen­er­a­tion of glass artists also chal­lenge per­cep­tion, as much as ways of mak­ing.

“More artists are choos­ing glass as a medium, ex­per­i­ment­ing with it,” says Mon­zon. “Col­lec­tors who once only ever looked at ce­ram­ics are mov­ing over to glass too - glass seems to be very much of the mo­ment. We’ve moved out of an era in which glass was dom­i­nated by big brands and into one in which

“There’s a push to­wards more high- end art glass now.”

in­di­vid­ual artists are find­ing their own way.”

An­gela Jar­man, for ex­am­ple, uses only a mono­chrome palette in lost wax-cast glass to ex­plore themes the likes of ge­netic mu­ta­tion; the re­sults are, by her own de­scrip­tion, “strange and dis­turb­ing”, and a long way from dec­o­ra­tive glass’s tra­di­tion­ally more po­lite forms.

Ge­of­frey Mann’s work sug­gests recog­nis­able items in the process of melt­ing, col­laps­ing or trans­mut­ing, with his best-known pieces chart­ing in glass the flight of moths recorded us­ing high­speed dig­i­tal cam­eras at 2,000 frames per sec­ond.

Paul Sto­pler’s (paulsto­pler.com) cur­rent work may be fo­cused on geo­met­ric, one- off cast glass ves­sels, but he has also worked more biomor­phic shapes akin to ex­otic deep sea crea­tures.

“There’s an ex­plo­ration of how far you can push the ma­te­rial,” says Sto­pler, who has pi­o­neered lathe-turned waxing and re­vived the an­cient use of a jig sys­tem with abra­sives in or­der to cre­ate very pre­cise, com­plex forms oth­er­wise dif­fi­cult to achieve. “Of course, glass still cov­ers both bases - it’s of­ten artis­tic and func­tional. There are some­times el­e­ments of the do­mes­tic, that fa­mil­iar­ity, but it’s also sculp­tural. I don’t think it has to be one or the other any­more.” ≠

“There are some­times el­e­ments of the do­mes­tic, that fa­mil­iar­ity, but it’s also sculp­tural.”

Aurora Wave Break­ing by Gra­ham Muir. In­set: An­gel Mon­zon, di­rec­tor of Ves­sel.

From above: Prenum­bra by Hanne Ene­mark and Louis Thomp­son; Pin­til by Paul Sto­pler.

This Zostera vase is a unique piece by Heather Gille­spie. Made en­tirely of glass, it’s priced at £1,450 (S$2,580) by Ves­sel.

Stel­lar II by Lena Bergstrom; a glass bowl from the Land­scape Stud­ies col­lec­tion by Stephen Gil­lies and Kate Jones. Fac­ing page: Cloaked by Cathryn Shilling.

This and fac­ing pages: de Gour­nay helps its clients realise their dreams of a per­fect in­te­rior through its team of highly skilled ar­ti­sans.

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