Art of glass

By / 22nd of January, 2015
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Glass has attracted creative people for thousands of years. A new exhibition involving 23 artists, designers and architects will tour Australia, studying the contemporary preoccupation with the material.

Co-curated by JamFactory's CEO Brian Parkes and Margaret Hancock Davis, GLASS: art design architecture, explores every angle of the material and the ways it can be worked in to anything from tiny, fragile jewellery, to massive, iconic buildings.

"On the one hand it's such an ubiquitous, everyday material. I'm staring through it right now," Parkes says.

"We deal with it in so many ways. I just had a sip of water out of a glass. I'm looking at a glass screen, staring through a glass window. It's around us all the time and we often take it for granted."

GLASS, then, seeks out the mystery and wonder in the material. The exhibition has gathered everything from contemporary tea sets to windows from the SAHMRI building.

"A cut glass crystal is a fascinating object for any child or person. It just defies logic, the way that light works through it.

"It's such an extraordinary material, because you can see through it, because of the way that light refracts and reflects from it.  We were deliberately keen to have people consider the breadth of use of the material by creative people."

There's a tendency, Parkes says, to approach glass simply from a visual arts point of view, as beautiful sculptural objects - something South Australia's JamFactory has a long history with. But there's more to it than that.

"We really wanted this to be a way of using the material as a starting point, but looking out in to the world of creative endeavour, across those areas of art, design and architecture - and also the gaps between them."

One of the major displays is that of Woods Bagot's SAHMRI building. Located on the northwestern corner of Adelaide, it's a gravity-defying glass wonder. GLASS art design architecture has acquired a full-scale prototype of one of the medical research building's hooded, triangular windows.

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Woods Bagot, South Australian Health and Medical Reasearch Institute, 2013. Photo: Peter Clarke.

"I'm still in awe of the SAHMRI building. I see it every day and as a result my fondness for it grows. We've got an extraordinary video that flies through and shows all the aspects, how people are using it, the nature and transparency of the workspaces."

On the other end of the spectrum are Jess Dare's small, beautiful botanical specimens made from glass.

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Jess Dare, Conceptual Flowering, 2013. Photo: Grant Hancock.

"It's a sort of lamp working process using a glass torch, heating up the borosilicate glass rods and forming shapes, sculpting in the moment. I love the anal retentive intricacy of it," Parkes laughs.

"The poetic work of someone like Clare Belfrage resonates. Beautiful, quiet, hand-blown glass forms are such a classically beautiful thing in terms of glass. The way she works the surface to get this sort of cold lustre as opposed to the gloss you get from glass is just beautiful."

GLASS: art design architecture will be on display from 13 February - 18 April at JamFactory on Morphett Street, Adelaide, South Australia.

It will move to JamFactory at Seppeltsfield, Barossa Valley, from 9 May - 19 July, before commencing a national tour until 2017, including regional areas and capital cities across the country.

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Elliat Rich, Urban Billy, 2013. Photo: Grant Hancock

Exhibitors:

The exhibitors represent a broad range of approaches to working with glass, and the range of work in the exhibition is extensive – from fine, hand-crafted jewellery to high-tech glass skyscrapers.

Some of the exhibitors include: the multiple award winning architectural firm Woods Bagot, who ranked 7th in Building Design’s (BD) annual World Architecture 100 list for 2014. Contemporary artist Nic Folland who was the focus of a major solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia as well as the recipient of the South Australian Living Artist Publication in 2014 and Tom Moore - one of Australia’s most celebrated glass artists – who swept the pool of glass awards in 2013/14, winning the Tom Malone Prize for Contemporary Glass, Ranamok Glass Prize and the City of Hobart Art Prize.

Exhibitors: Andrew Simpson (Vert Design), Architectus, Blanche Tilden, Charles Wright Architects, Clare Belfrage, Deb Jones, Elliat Rich, illumini (Karen Cunningham and Mandi King), Janet Laurence, Jess Dare, Jessica Loughlin, Keep Cup, Mark Douglass, Max Pritchard Architect, Mel Douglas, Nicholas Folland, Richard Whitely, Ruth Allen, Tom Moore, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer (with Taylor Cullity Lethlean and Aurecon), Wendy Fairclough, Woods Bagot and Yhonnie Scarce.

More about JamFactory from The Lead South Australia:

JPE Design Studio and JamFactory join Norwegian architects Snohetta for Great Hall project

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JamFactory at Seppeltsfield

JamFactory and Stylecraft establish the Australian Furniture Design Award

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