Guest blog post from Rebecca Milling:
I have been lucky enough to receive funding from the Royal Scottish Academy Residency Scheme, to spend time at North Lands Creative Glass. I am learning the art of scientific glass blowing so that I can make glass sculptures which have required skill to produce before I take photographs which capture the instant of their destruction. My latest series of work has involved building glass structures from off cuts of picture frame glass, in an attempt to build as high as possible without any particular thought or skill attributed to the construction.
Week 1 – July 2013
I’ve never travelled as far north as Lybster before so the six and a half hour drive up from Edinburgh was filled with excitement and anticipation of what I was going to discover during my first week learning the art of scientific glass blowing. Arriving to find huge and fully equipped workshops with Michael Bullen, an enthusiastic and dedicated technician, I was not disappointed at the mind blowing potential of what could be achieved!
Trying to focus on my original plan, I was very happy to meet my tutor, Ian Pearson, an expert in his field and immediately keen to point out to me that he can make anything out of glass – just say it and he will make it! Ian loves to show off his prowess working in the flame as I looked on wondering what I had let myself in for.
However, Ian gave me little time to back out and I was turning, spinning and blowing in no time
Ian was not keen on the large metal hammer in my photographs and so made me a glass one in about 10 minutes proving his point that he really can make anything!
I was left to my own devices on days 2 and 3 faced with this workbench, many glass spindles and Ian’s instructions hastily scrawled on a notebook the day before.
I became fond of them and gradually, especially after another day’s teaching, they became smoother and I started to feel a bit more in control of the limitations of my newfound medium. It also became evident that the scope to play with reflection and distortion in the glass shapes was going to be a key element for future photographs. I returned home with a car full of distorted and wonky glass tubes – some better than others!
During my first week, I also took the opportunity to drive the 30 miles north to John O’Groats one evening and then to the most northerly point in mainland Britain – Dunnet Head. Castletown Harbour was well worth a visit too.
Week 2 October 2013
Having spent time in the studio back home where I’d been able to experiment with what I had made during my first week, I returned to North Lands with a mission to make as many organic shapes as possible with smooth unridged bubbles to get best effects for reflection and distortion. I had ordered various tube widths and varying wall thicknesses of tubing to try and get different sizes when blowing.
I had asked Ian to leave spindles out for me so that I could get to work immediately. I was also keen to try working with soda tubing as well as pyrex. Soda tubing breaks much more easily than pyrex tubing so I wanted to put this to the test considering that my ultimate intention was to smash my sculpture, it seemed logical to work with the material which would smash most easily and hopefully dramatically.
Ian was a little taken aback at the prospect of working with soda but game as ever and delighting in the inevitable regular explosions which came from working with a more unstable material. I enjoyed working with the soda and liked the extra malleable qualities of it and how it retained its heat for longer.
It must be noted that when faced with a large metal hammer being thrown at the blown thin walled organic shapes – both pyrex and soda smashed just as well and it was impossible to tell the difference!
I spent 4 days blowing glass and had eventually taken over the workshop with my efforts.
Ian made me an awful lot of spindles to blow and I also gave him the challenge to blow large and even elongated bubbles so that I could experiment with regular reflection.
A team of happy helpers turned up at the weekend and we set to work first of all in the sheltered courtyard taking photographs against black velvet and also in the garden of the house shooting with the dusk sky as a backdrop.
Please see www.rebeccamilling.com Reflective Construction to see more of the final images from that week.
I have again come home with a car full of glass and am planning my next adventure to North Lands in 2014.
Our Artistic Director, Emma Woffenden is featuring in a number of exhibitions in the UK and further afield alongside many other notable artists working in glass.
Marsden Woo Gallery
‘Mixed Display’ All Gallery artists and some selected guests.
10 January to 15 February
‘UK Glass’ 6 April 2014 – 14 September
25 established and upcoming artists who live and work in the United Kingdom.
Jullia Malle, Jeffrey Sarmiento, Sarah Blood, Liam Reeves, Peter Layton, Katharine Coleman, Shelley James, Helen Maurer, James Maskrey, Louis Thompson, Michael Ruh, Fiaz Elson, Katherine Dowson, Jeff Zimmer, Richard Wheater, Keiko Mukaide, Kathryn Wightman, Andrea Walsh, Erin Dickson, Emma Woffenden, Graham Muir, Michael Petry and Jerome Harrington.
The Coburg Prize for Contemporary Glass 2014
Awards ceremony, April 12
Exhibition, April 13 – September 14
Marsden Woo Gallery
Emma Woffenden solo show, title to be confirmed
15 May – 21 June
2014 Programme: The Place and The Work
Making art works in relation to place is the focus of our Conference and Master Classes this year; acknowledging how artists and their work connect to their surroundings, landscape, architecture, history and social context.
CLASS 1: Petr Stanicky
The Unique Genius Loci of the Space.
27th August – 4th September. Cost: £895 (9 day class – includes course fees, materials and evening meals)
“A reflection of the unique genius loci of the space. Sculpture, objects or installation. The idea is to let the unique qualities of North Lands’ surroundings influence the art works. Be open to nature, face new qualities of light, scale and let all of this influence artworks.
This will be a unique opportunity to access the hotshop in the middle of a remote landscape and to work with all kinds of techniques which hot glass offers. It will be an ideal situation to create, discover and open new paths in an artist’s work.”
Hot glass techniques will be experimental and developed according to the concepts of the class participants. Work will be researched in different media such as drawing, photography and model making. Some experience in hot glass techniques is beneficial. There will be a gaffer to realise ideas into glass for those with limited hot glass experience.
About Petr Stanicky:
The breadth of Petr Stanicky’s work is reflected in his rich and diverse studies in the Czech Republic and the USA. At the AAAD in Prague he studied sculpture, specialising in stone carving and glass in architecture; he graduated in 2000. By 2007 he had been teaching sculpture at the arts academy for 4 years when he decided to immerse himself in a study of the figure, joining a masters program at the New York Arts Academy. From there he gained experience working on sculptural projects in Jeff Koons’ studio. On returning to the Czech Republic he chose to lead a new masters program in glass at Tomas Bata University in Zlín. He describes the ethos: ‘Working in the studio makes students perceive the unity and the close relationship between human beings and nature. It helps them perceive and understand the substance, the colour and the space. It helps students exceed the limits of their perception beyond the entity designed and delimit it within architecture.’
Stanicky is an artist working from a wide material knowledge and extensive skill base. He allows himself the freedom to move between representational and abstract art, traditional and non traditional materials but always with academic rigor. His work has been widely exhibited in Europe and debuts in the UK this May at the National Glass Centre, Sunderland.
CLASS 2: Helen Maurer & Angela Moore
The Lie of the Land
30th August to 4th September. Cost: £650 (6 day class – includes course fees, materials and evening meals)
“Over the course of six days we’ll be looking at the relationship between images and objects, setting up a series of exercises using glass, light and the landscape to generate material. Expect to be projecting into fog, distorting the landscape though glass and working with the elements. The emphasis will be on using low-fi production methods and experimentation.
Participants will need to bring their own camera and to both document experiments and produce images as the final outcome. There’ll be opportunities to collaborate within the group, to share skills and generate new ideas. In our experience this has been surprising, taking us to unknown territories and now to the Highlands and beyond!”
This class is site specific open to glassmakers and artists of all media.
About Helen Maurer:
Helen Maurer’s early studies were in Visual and Performing Arts at Brighton University. Later she studied glass at Central St Martins School of Art and the Royal College of Art. She is represented by Danielle Arnaud gallery London and also works on site specific commissions. She collaborates with other artists, choreographers and musicians. Maurer was awarded the Jerwood Prize for Glass in 2003 for her unique approach to glass. “Where possible I like reconfiguring existing things, finding participants for the scenes that I create, almost like auditioning actors for parts, objects are brought in and out of my constructions. Ideas come from experimenting with materials, for example projecting light through objects to create shadows.” Her work often starts with a tableau of varying scale which is projected into static or moving image, defining the space it is placed in. Recently her work has been developed by filming the optical effects discovered during its construction and projecting this as part of the work.
About Angela Moore:
Angela Moore is a photographer known for her high profile campaign photography connected to the art and design world. Her work is used in magazines worldwide and includes highly innovative projects for Frieze Art Fair, Vitra, Kvadrat, SCP, Tord Boontje, the Design Museum and Modus. Her sensitive understanding of the contemporary image and culture has led to the current demand for her work. She has photographed cookbooks for Heston Blumenthal, Canteen and Nigel Slater and extensively for Swarovski’s Crystallized publication. Angela’s work has been exhibited in Thessaloniki Museum of Photography and Monat der Fotografie, Vienna. She studied design at Goldsmiths College of Art in London, the city in which she still lives and works.
Helen and Angela first worked together on a commission for the Pump House Gallery where they started their ‘Bad Magic’ project. They went on to create work for the Swarovski magazine, Crystallized, which involved visually interpreting the ‘Trends’ pages. They share an interest for illusory and distorted images, a quirky low-fi aesthetic and an interest in the effects of light and projection.
CLASS 3: Kristiina Uslar
Influences, Layers and Columns.
9th September- 17th September. Cost: £895 (9 day class – includes course fees, materials and evening meals)
Estonian artist Kristiina Uslar will lead a class focused on pâte de verre: “In my class I would like to teach how to make multilayered glass objects using the pâte de verre technique and to introduce different layer connections using columns. The result should be a combination of fragility, airiness and strength. The soul of the object should be influenced by its surrounding environment, individuals and emotions. Our surroundings shape the person inside us.
Glass – such a versatile and contradictory material – large and light, small and heavy, strong and frail, transparent and opaque. For me it is the most suitable mediator between wonderland and reality. Exploring this, participants will make their own works in pâte de verre. They will take inspiration from the area, its cultured scenery and nature.” For this class a basic understanding of mould making and kiln working in glass is necessary.
About Kristiina Uslar
Kristiina graduated from the Estonia Academy of Art in 2003 where she later taught in the glass department. She completed an MA in 2007 in which she focused on the construction of Roman cage cups, this open net structure is evident in her own works. Using pâte de verre she takes a historical process with qualities she describes as tender and fragile, and subverts them by making bold and decisive forms with an industrial reference; organic and mechanical at the same time.
“My intention and goal was not to restore the technique but to study and develop it toward artwork and through this to gradually unfold the variety of ways in which the technique can be innovated.” The unexpected transformation of material also takes us from the historical to the contemporary. Kristiina Uslar is a glass artist who, by reinventing a process, has brought new life to it. She describes glass as “the most suitable mediator between wonderland and reality.”
She lives and works in Estonia and has been exhibiting her work in Europe, the USA and Japan since 2001. Her work has been acknowledged in various glass awards and is held in many major collections.
CLASS 4: Richard William Wheater
Are You Experienced?
9th September – 17th September. Cost: £895 (9 day class – includes course fees, materials and evening meals)
“A Jimi Hendrix Album title? A prospective employer’s question?
A game changing challenge! Set by an artist to participants of a 9 day workshop.
Expect what was stationary to be on wheels. Expect the four walls of a studio to be cut like an umbilical cord. Expect adventures in hot glass and neon. Expect to fail, many times.”
This class will be a unique opportunity to work with Richard William Wheater to combine furnace glass and neon. Participants will work in the studio and in outdoor locations. Some experience in hot glass techniques is beneficial.
About Richard William Wheater:
Richard William Wheater gained notoriety for an ambitious project in 2008 titled ‘Them and Us’. Touring the UK with his mobile furnace he hot sculpted indigenous glass birds in their natural habitat, he then released them into the air in a ritualistic act, which both freed and destroyed them. An artist/performer committed to the act of making and the science of materials, his work is also ephemeral transitory art, involving place and people. It is always beautifully recorded. In recent years an in-depth study of neon has involved equally image and media aware events such as ‘12 months of neon love’, in which a highly visible neon bill board announced declarations of love, lines from popular songs which changed once a month. Other neon works made and put into action with groups of people aim to unite people with landscape as did his recent ‘Land to Sea’ project. Installations have been both site specific and gallery based. Wheater might start with making an object but it extends further.
As a communicator, designer and artist he wants clarity and accessibility in the medium. He is highly qualified in glass making, art and teaching. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art, Alfred University USA and the University of Sunderland. He lives in Wakefield, UK.
HOW TO APPLY
Master Class places are juried and places given by our selection panel.
First send in your booking form. Click here to send your booking form
We will then contact you and ask you to send the following:
- A brief CV outlining your previous experience.
- A short statement (max 1 page A4) outlining the benefit of the Class to your artistic practice.
- 10 images of recent work, please include title, date made, dimensions and techniques used.
For more information email Grace at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01593 721 229
2014 International Conference and Master Classes.
The Place and The Work Conference will be held on Saturday 6, Sunday 7 September. Class sessions run 27 August – 4 September and 9 – 16 September. Making art works in relation to place is the focus of the North Lands Creative Glass Conference and Master Classes 2014; acknowledging how artists and their work connect to their surroundings, landscape, architecture, history and social context. We see more interactive public art, more artists responding to and working with communities. Artists are making works that respond to weather, nature or urban environments, to political discourse and social situations. It seems that some artists and public demand less autonomous disconnected sculpture favouring instead a more connected vision. We ask questions about what it means to experience remoteness, how this and being in a place away from home affect an artist’s work. What influences the particularities of a landscape can have and what it means to collaborate with artists in close proximity, to work intensively with no distractions and to embrace or reject the surroundings. What can happen when we go beyond our familiar studio environment and step outside into a bigger picture? What does it mean to be a glass specialist in this place, at this time? More details for the Classes and Conference programme will be announced shortly.
Photo credit: James Ross
You can follow the adventures of our A Forest of Glass artists in residence on the Creative Futures website
(l-r Wil Sideman, Laura Reid, Madeline Mackay, Heather Gillespie)
A Forest of Glass is part of Creative Futures, a Creative Scotland talent development programme which aims to promote the professional development, capabilities, connectivity and ambitions of Scotland’s creative practitioners and organisations.
Our residency, A Forest of Glass, began on 21 October. The four artists Heather Gillespie, Madeline Mackay, Laura Reid from the UK and Wil Sideman from the US arrived safely in Lybster and spent the week preparing their materials and themselves for their eight week adventure.
The project is a partnership between North Lands Creative Glass and the Borgie Forest Cabin Project, with the support of the Forestry Commission Scotland. A Forest of Glass is part of Creative Futures, a Creative Scotland talent development programme which aims to promote the professional development, capabilities, connectivity and ambitions of Scotland’s creative practitioners and organisations. www.creativescotland.com www.creativefutureshq.com
They’ll be staying and working here – North Lands Creative Glass Studio
and here! This is Borgie Forest Cabin.
Borgie Forest is one of the most northerly forests in the UK. The artists will be working in the landscape (in somewhat cooler weather than the pictures suggest) using engraving tools and techniques and creating their own Highland adventure.
Here’s Wil Sideman in the Studio this week.
We asked them for their first impressions…
I have been in Lybster for a few days now and so far it has been a wonderful experience meeting the local people and staff at North Lands. So far meeting engraver Denis Mann has been my highlight, such a sweet man with many years of experience underneath his belt which he is willing to pass on to me and the other residents, it is a true honour for him to be with us.
As from tomorrow I will find myself living and working in a forest, a daunting prospect of having no access to internet, phone, tv or radio, just glass machinery to keep me entertained. It’s exciting but at the same time terrifying!
I have heard the forest and surrounding areas and beaches house spectacular views, which I am looking forward seeing and gathering inspiration for my new works. It’s going to be interesting 8 weeks, one which I think could change my way of thinking and making work.
Being up in Lybster again has been amazing so far, it’s one of my favourite places. It’s been good getting to know the other residents and seeing some familiar faces, and I’m looking forward to heading out to the Borgie forest and getting stuck into some engraving on location. I’m excited about what’s coming next!’
After a busy first week getting to grips with a new medium, I’m looking forward to heading off for Borgie to do some serious drawing and put what I’ve learned into practice. Bring on the wilderness…
This residency represents several unknowns to me both as an artist and as an individual. I have travelled to a new country, I am exploring a new technique and with the introduction of the Borgie Forest, I will be living and working in a very different environment. I have been excited to participate in this residency because I knew it would break me out of my comfort zone and challenge me to expand as an artist.
I could not have been happier to step off the bus at the end of my long journey and be greeted by a fantastic community, welcoming staff and three other excited and hardworking residents. I am unaware of what will come but I am trying to embrace everything that comes my way.
And they headed off today to Borgie Forest.