So, where does my inspiration come from? The style of my glass work is clearly a product of the time that I spent drawing and printmaking at college and from the start it was inevitable that I’d use my materials to ‘draw’ within the glass.
One of the cleverest pieces of advice I ever received was ‘plagiarise judiciously’. My art training instilled in me that new projects start with research and I’ll trawl the internet and books for images that might give me the germ of an idea to develop.
My latest body of work was initiated by submitting to an exhibition called ‘Life Forms’. I spent time researching simple celled bodies that might have some aesthetic appeal and came across the wonderful world of cyanobacteria also known as ‘blue green algae’. These early life forms were instrumental in oxygenating the world billions of years ago and are currently the subject of further scientific research for their unique properties. As an art inspiration they have a wonderful sinuous form which becomes almost an abstract painting when transformed into glass.
Ideas also flow from my extensive collection of books on fabric design and they’re often a first port of call when I’m looking for new ideas. The distinctive ‘mid century modern’ patterns of the fifties have provided yet another source of imagery for wall panels and some garden pieces.
I’ve been developing a series of ‘miniature landscapes for the past couple of years. During the last decade I’ve been away for regular walking holidays with a friend - anywhere from Hadrian’s Wall to the Cornish coast -and this has provided a rich source of imagery for these small monochrome landscapes. At a size of 7 x 12.5 cm glass on a simple wooden block these are curiously tactile and have proved to be very appealing. I have an idea to make large pieces but they may lose some of their charm if they become larger . Who knows? Time for some more experimentation
Landscapes from £90
Wall panels from £175
Garden sculptures from £90
I was a primary teacher in those heady days before the national curriculum, when it was possible to go on art courses and then enjoy passing on the skills to the kids. I studied weaving, and spinning, printmaking,pottery, paper mache - just about any creative course my headteacher would release me to attend.
A relocation to Oxford 20 years ago gave me the opportunity to sign up for an art foundation course and it was a life changing experience.
I chose a short course called ‘kilnformed glass’ and the rest as they say is history. The tutor had brought scraps of clear glass along with copper leaf and wire and I was captivated by the results of firing these materials with float glass in a kiln
I love the painterly effect of rich yet subtle colours that the combination of metals and float glass achieve when they are heated and they give my work a unique and recognisable style whatever the subject. I think of it as alchemy in reverse - the glass goes into the kiln looking shiny and metallic and when the kiln has done it’s magic there is a miraculous transformation of these elements which makes each piece of glass unique.
I rarely do commissions. I think they’re a Marmite thing - you either love them or hate them. I still find it quite humbling that people see my glass and want to buy it but I’d rather not try to second guess what they have in mind for a commission. However, I broke my rule 2 years ago when I was invited to make a large window for a show garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, how could I turn that down?
It was a steep learning curve and a nerve wracking 9 months of design and making but it still puts a big grin on my face when I look at the photo of everybody’s favourite gardener, Monty Don, standing in front of my window at Chelsea.