15 Sep 2012

Theatre for Whisky



In what seems an age ago, almost a year I took my first residency as a glass artist at North Lands Creative Glass in Lybster. I'd visited before for the first time on a Masterclass (see here for previous posts) and fell in love with the area and the glass school. It's an extremely beautiful and intense part of Scotland in direct contrast to the region I live in and enjoy every day I get to spend there.

I was invited to join the In Place:Kiln formed glass in architecture Residency led by Richard Parrish and Steve Klein by Lani McGregor on my visit to Portland last April and was very kindly sponsored by Lani and her husband Dan who own Bullseye Glass in America (this is the range of kiln formed glass I've used since my first classes back in 2002....10 years!!).

The residency experience gave me 10 days to think, play and soak in the atmosphere of Caithness and a chance to move my practice on without having to think too much about the commercial potential of my work. I used the time after the residency at home to look more intently at the use of glass powders and start to learn how I could use them in my gravity processes in the kiln and play with layering many colours to achieve 3D effects.

Last weekend I travelled to Caithness again for the annual North Lands Glass Conference and delivered the piece that has taken a year in the making (well, obviously not a year making it, but the progression of my work in that year and the culmination of studying the research I made whilst in Lybster).


'Theatre for Whisky' is what I call an architectural piece. The residency focused on 3 disused properties and what we would imagine adding to the building in glass. At the time my attention was waylaid by the buoys in the harbour and the swallows nesting in the empty spaces (themes which I'm still investigating) but I have used the whisky cabinet to bring together the powder work with a 'dyke' outer skin and the birds returning home year on year on the inside (an idea of beacons and translations of light for the birds to find their way).





Its mostly a glass construction set into a reclaimed solid oak base and top (great joiners in Castle Douglas made the wood pieces to my design and helped fit the glass pieces into the rebates A.D Livingston & Sons )...I love that they understood what I was trying to achieve and found a well-used piece of wood which had a slight curve to the plank, hinting at an aged barrel.

 
I wanted to play with light with all glass surfaces so I was pleased to see what the inside would look like through the front doors whilst constructing the piece. The colours came from the buoys and the multitude of greys in the landscape and skies across Caithness.
 




I really enjoyed working on this project (even though there was some trepidation to where the piece was hopefully heading....a lovely experience to see it in-situ looking out at much of the stone that influenced it) and where this year has taken my work, all aspects of which I'll be using for my focus show at Contemporary Applied Arts next month. Such a valuable experience and I would like to thank Lani and Dan for their hospitality, patience and the support thay have shown in my work.

I'm lucky to be heading north again next month to teach a 3 day course at North Lands as last weekend was just too short a visit to that beautiful landscape.


'slĂ inte mhath!'

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