12 Jan 2016

Naked Craft in Nova Scotia

My first show for 2016 opens this week, the last date of the Canadian leg of the Naked Craft tour. I'm happy to be able to see the show here in Scotland this year as the Scottish tours starts off at he Barony Centre in West Kilbride in February 2016. Swiftly followed by a show in Germany at the Ernsting Stiftung Glass Museum 'New Acquisitions 2015'.

I'm currently writing up my residency at Lyth Arts Centre in Caithness last November and hope to be going back in April for further research.

Plenty happening this year and quite a lot of travel. I didn't do any international teaching in 2015 but will make up for it this year by two trips to America (at Bullseye Glass in New York and the Pittsburgh Glass Center) and running courses in Perth and Melbourne later in Summer (these have both sold out).

Nest Eggs on show in Nova Scotia

21 Nov 2015

Exploring Wonderland - Manchester Jewellers Network

Another Winter show opening this week.

Had great fun working on these new pieces, experimenting with forms, fragility and bold colour. Made for the Exploring Wonderland show by the Manchester Jewellers Network at Manchester Craft and Design centre.

Lots of variations of a toxic tea party, making the seemingly functional object very difficult to use or small vials for potions and poisons, each on it's own unique powder platter.

All images by Shannon Tofts.

From the Manchester Craft and Design Centre website:
EXHIBITION : November 21, 2015 — February 14, 2016              

Exploring Wonderland

Manchester Jewellers Network celebrates 150 years of Alice

Curiouser and curiouser…

Did you fall in love with the fantasy world that Lewis Carroll created for his young muse Alice? We’re giving all you grown-up children the chance to let your imaginations run riot all over again in the company of the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts, and everyone’s favourite pipe-smoking caterpillar.
The magical story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has fired the imagination of children – and adults – for a century and a half. 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of its original publication and to celebrate, we’ve invited Manchester Jewellers Network (MJN) to take over our exhibition space this winter.
Exploring Wonderland is a showcase of work inspired by the imagination of Lewis Carroll and will feature 28 makers, including jewellers, glassmakers, printmakers, paper artists, furniture makers, ceramicists and more.
Alice in Wonderland remains as enchanting as ever and Exploring Wonderland will enchant you all over again.

FREE family-friendly launch event, 21st November, 2.00 -5.00pm
This family-friendly launch event marks the start of our Christmas season – join us for festive refreshments, live music, Alice-inspired activities and the perfect opportunity to start shopping for unique handmade Christmas gifts.
The exhibition continues until 14th February 2016.

About MJN

Established in 2002, MJN has around 20 members. The network champions handmade work, exhibits internationally, and promotes exciting and innovative contemporary jewellery made from a broad range of materials. www.manchesterjewellersnetwork.org

20 Nov 2015

Contemporary Applied Arts Present & Collect

Present and Collect opened yesterday at Contemporary Applied Arts. I have a collection of new tall vessels in the show, open til Christmas eve.

All images by Shannon Tofts

16 Nov 2015

Winter Shows: Gallery Heinzel, Rozelle House and Gracefield Arts Centre

 A selection of small works for the Winter show at Gallery Heinzel in Aberdeen.

I have a collection of my Voyager based work on show at Rozelle House in Ayr.

Christmas Crafts and Art

October - 24 December 2015

Continuing our tradition of exciting, diverse and beautiful crafts, until Christmas, Rozelle House is offering a selection from local crafters, with some from further afield. Jewellery, glassware, wicker work, ceramics, furniture and a range of pictures and textiles, with some makers old favourites and some unfamiliar. Top Scottish crafters on show include Leona Stewart, Amanda Simmons, Geoff Forest, Margaret MacDonald, Terri Campbell and Clachan Wood.

Rozelle House

Rozelle Park

Monument Road

And my third Winter show is at Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries.

13 Nov 2015

Dahlia Universe II

Dahlia Universe II (2015)
Made for London Glassblowing Gallery show Essence (a selected group show of artists who had work in the British Biennale).
Picture by Ester Segarra

My first duo set Dahlia Universe was purchased from the Biennale by Ersting-Stiffung Glass Museum in Germany. They will be exhibiting the piece in the New Acquisitions show in 2016.

13 Aug 2015

Catch Up 3: Naked Craft on tour in Canada

Naked Craft

Touring craft exhibition in Canada and Scotland 2015-2016

First opening at the Art Gallery of Burlington in Canada 

June 20 – September 6, 2015

Location: Lee-Chin Family Gallery

Curators: Sandra Alfoldy (NSCAD), Denis Longchamps (Art Gallery of Burlington), Juliette MacDonald (Edinburgh College of Art), Emma Quin (Craft Ontario), Arno Verhoeven (Edinburgh College of Art)
This international project brings together the best of contemporary Canadian and Scottish crafts. Makers from these two countries are united in this exhibition to celebrate the shared sense of northern resilience as both of them rest to the north of a southern powerhouse. People in Scotland and Canada have a tendency to identify themselves by what they are not; Not English, Not American, and our countries appear to struggle to retain our freedom from those southern neighbors. Contemporary craft builds upon traditions and heritage that are place holders that aid in defining our identity and cultures.

The Naked Craft exhibition strips ideas of craft back down to four sub-themes that bridge the past and the present, Old Scotland and New Scotland, traditional and changing ideas. The following categories are intended to form a creative, open-minded focus on exploring disciplinary, theoretical, conceptual and methodological approaches to the discipline. This project provides a novel and timely approach to issues of production and consumption of craft from a range of historical and contemporary perspectives.  

Under the theme of Do-it-Yourself: DIY, objects are related to the long and rich history of small craft and home improvement projects, of makers making with an ethos of self-sufficiency. In Down and Dirty: politics and materials the selected works highlight a personal or communal attachment with place, emphasize a sense of loss or displacement, or highlight renewed engagement or innovative development. Through New Positions; the work of current generations of makers, of all ages, who embrace new methods of craft production, and new terminology such as craftivism, yarn bombing, and sloppy craft are profiled. Finally, Tooling Up: new technologies and economies, contrasting a selection of makers who are exploring their tools and materials from new perspectives, putting into place challenging processes, interpreting new ways to understand their materials, and constructing new approaches and tools for their own purposes.

'Amanda Simmons considers our fragile relationship with birds and mourns the many dead found in the rural land. She also incorporates a sense of hope that is reflected by the returning migrants that breed in her workshop. To these themes she thinks about the displacement of people and the recent Scottish independence vote.' 
From the Naked Craft Catalogue

Art Gallery of Burlington (image by Christine Saly at AGB)

Nest Egg - Amanda Simmons

After the AGB, the exhibition will be touring to Centre Materia in Quebec (September 26 – November 28, 2015) and then the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax (January 14 – April 10, 2016). The exhibition opening for Centre Materia will be Saturday September 26, 2015 from 5pm-7pm. This will then tour in Scotland with venues and dates to be confirmed at time of writing.

My work continued with my Bird and Bone theme using very lightweight powdered glass vessels to mourn the many deaths of birds around the rural regions of Scotland.....a memorial to those beautiful wee birds that exist fleetingly. The forms of the pieces are linked to the swallow nests that surround my ceilings in the workshop and many abandoned crofts and out-buildings in the North of Scotland. Each year the swallows return to build communities, breed and feed, back to the same nests. The light lines are reminiscent of the swooping flight paths across my studio. At the time of making these pieces the Scottish Independence vote was being debated passionately up and down the UK and as an English woman living in Scotland I took the question very seriously and thinking how it would affect us globally, nationally and locally. I quite often travel to the North of Scotland and could feel how different it was to live so far from London and how important some issues are in a small rural community that would not be considered by London.

It was a pleasure being invited to join this show and will follow it remotely until it comes across the pond. Many thanks to all those involved in the curating, administration and setting up of this show.

 Images of the first Naked Craft Exhibition in Burlington from Christine Saly at the Art Gallery of Burlington).

11 Aug 2015

UK Handmade Autumn Issue

The editor of UK Handmade Bebe Bradley, has written an article on my practice for this seasons issue. A lovely quarterly issue with many inspirational makers and articles.

14 Jul 2015

Catch Up 2: Modern Heritage Craft Project with Spring Fling

At the beginning of this year I joined a project with Spring Fling supported by The Holywood Trust and The Heritage Lottery Fund. The project, in it's second pilot year, gave 15-25 year olds the chance to create contemporary functional objects with professional makers in Dumfries and Galloway. We worked intensively together for 10 days, learning not only the physical skills to create a piece of glass but also an insight into the daily life of a maker culminating in an exhibition of their work in Designs Gallery in Castle Douglas.
'Craft makers work with their hands and using tools, machinery and technology to make (usually) wearable or usable objects such as jewellery, clothes, shoes, furniture, pots, bowls and hats. They use materials such as metal, wood, glass, plastic, fabric, leather and clay. Some makers use traditional techniques and machinery, some use cutting edge new technology, and some may use a combination.'
                                                                                                            From the Spring Fling website

I was a bit hesitant at first as I felt 10 days was too short to produce exhibition quality work for those who hadn't worked with glass before. I also hadn't taught this age group before. I shouldn't have worried, from the first meeting we had at Gracefield Arts Centre in Dumfries I knew they would be an excellent group. All very interested, quick to learn and took on ideas in an unknown medium so well. Maybe it was because of the unknown but they had no fear and all had very strong concepts from the start that grew at each step as they learnt more about glass.

The whole project was documented by Colin Tennant, taking stills and creating a film from both years (see end of blog post). This two year pilot project will be used to secure funding for a long term apprenticeship project in the region which I highly support. All images here (apart from a few indicated) are taken by and copyrighted by Colin Tennant along with Spring Fling (soon to be Upland).

We spent two days in the print room at Gracefield getting to know one another, learning the basics of glass and some printmaking to inform our glass work, a similar pattern to how I work. Next, to produce samples and the finished pieces I led two blocks of 4 days in my workshop, learning fusing, slumping, sheet glass and powders (all Bullseye Glass) and cold working techniques such as hand engraving, diamond wheel lathe engraving, diamond flat bed grinding and sandblasting. As you can see from the images we had a brilliant time and the work they produced by themselves was excellent. I think it was a little daunting for them to have work finished for an exhibition but they all rose to the challenge in style. They were involved in the whole process right through to the professional photography by Colin of their finished work. I was so happy to hear that they loved the experience and has informed their choices for the next step of their careers.

I'd like to thank all those involved for instigating a vibrant scheme for the young people in D&G, inviting me on the project and producing amazing marketing materials and putting on an excellent exhibition that was very well received (especially as the students didn't want to sell the work and this was in a commercial gallery)....but especially to my lovely students who I'm very happy to call friends and have back in my workshop at any time. I look forward to watching what they achieve in the future.

Working in the studio on their separate projects
 Glass powder application
Working from printing research
Detail of glass powders ready to be fired
Application of glass powders onto previously fused glass building a depth of colour

Working with the huge range of glass powders from Bullseye Glass


Finished piece - Large vessel form working on the devastating effect of the Lockerbie air disaster

Finished work - Water falling through free form vessels (on custom built stand in the exhibition)
 Looking for bubbles and how the light comes through the glass

 Finished work - Moons, tides and gravity
Setting up for photographs with Colin Tennant
 Finished set - Vessels representing memories, monuments and fragments
 Colin Tennant behind his camera and in front of mine
A selection of snaps taken by me before the exhibition at Designs Gallery opened

The final film by Colin Tennant that documents the two year project with the 3 other professional makers.

http://www.hlf.org.uk/ (Heritage Lottery Fund)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/colintennant/sets/72157634675185429/ (Colin Tennant's Flickr site as website undergoing revamp)