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
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)