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The craft&design Selected Awards 2012 - Specialist Judges

craft&design Selected Awards

Alan Poole
Alan Poole
Glass Category

Alan Poole

It is around twenty-five years since I first became aware of ‘Contemporary Glass’ or ‘Studio Glass’ as it used to be called, through my late Partner Dan Klein. Since the late nineties, when we collectively became more widely know as Dan Klein Associates, we not only collected contemporary glass by British and Irish Artists both here and abroad, but also wrote books on the subject, �Glass: A Contemporary Art�, Collins - (1989) and �Artists In Glass: Late Twentieth Century Masters In Glass�, Mitchell Beazley - (2001). Articles were written for numerous magazines and society’s newsletters, we opened exhibitions and occasionally held glass auctions such as at Bonhams, London in 2009.

We have staged numerous exhibitions both at home and abroad, the most notable being the first two big glass biennials in Venice, ‘Venezia Aperto Vetro’, 1996 and ’98 and ‘21st. Century British Glass’, at Daniel Katz Ltd., Old Bond Street, London where some fifty-six Glass Artists had the rare opportunity of exhibiting in the heart of ‘Galleryland’ in London’s Mayfair.

I am a Director of North Lands Creative Glass, a summer school established in 1996 at Lybster in north-east Scotland which provides masterclasses, an annual weekend conference and residencies for Artists at varying stages in their careers. Lastly, but by no means least, as many of you will be aware, I produce a monthly contemporary glass newsletter which is emailed out on or near the 1st of every month to anyone with an interested in British and Irish glass.

I will be looking for accomplished, well finished and thought through work that has some individuality to it, makes it stand out from the crowd and possibly even has an element of humour. The Artist must clearly put across what it is they are trying to say, via the techniques used and title (if any). If wall art or pieces in need of support, careful thought should be given to attachments, fittings and fastenings so that they do not take over the work.

Judge’s Statement

Glass techniques and surface decoration continue to evolve and progress, be they traditional glassblowing, casting and engraving skills, whilst others such as lampworking are having a new lease of life as Artists strive to push the boundaries of their artistic goals. Given the current world economic situation, many have had to adapt or completely changed their style of work as we see many utilising kiln-formed warm glass techniques, leaving hot glass processes behind due to expense. Is this a bad thing? In the greater scheme of things, I think not as we then arrive at a situation where Artists are experimenting a great deal more than they might have done. Couple this screen printing techniques, waterjet cutting and mixed media, we then have a rich and diverse selection of contemporary glass styles to add to the above mentioned traditional techniques.

Great Britain has a vibrant and diverse, skilled an artistically accomplished community of Glass Artists working across all techniques, surface decoration and cold working, of which we should all be proud. Unlike last year’s awards it is interesting to note that lampworking and jewellery has made the final again but also, several other Artists working with the traditional skills (with a modern slant). 
With all such competitions and prizes, it is difficult to judge one skill against another when all the work has been well executed? It eventually comes down to personal choice. The finalists range from Artists that have been around glass all of their lives, those in mid career, some still studying and others that have arrived at glass later in life. All of this had to be considered.

I eventually arrived at the decision to select Jonathan Harris the Gold Award for his many years of exploration of, and research into, the hot working graal and cameo techniques. He is often overlooked by the main stream but I feel that recognition is due at this time. Equally, I was impressed with Samantha Donaldson’s cold working skills which, coupled with good artistic content, have culminated in well accomplished work. Lastly, I am always amazed at how Rachel Elliott often changes style and techniques used to come up with what looks simple, but interesting and fun work.

I’d just like to finish by congratulating all six Artists on being voted as finalists in this competition. ‘Keep going!’

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