Eight-year-old Aran Moss O’Brien of Lybster in Caithness, tunes into artist Trish Roan’s wind instrument inspired by the landscape surrounding North Lands Creative Glass. Photo by David Moss
North Lands Creative Glass Conference 2014: The Place and The Work.
The final stretch of the A9 to John O’Groats is a well beaten path for fitness fanatics and fundraisers wishing to cover the length and breadth of the UK.
During the coming weeks, internationally acclaimed glass artists will leave a more aesthetic footprint on this long and winding road when they converge on North Lands Creative Glass in Lybster, for a conference and series of master classes entitled The Place and The Work.
Running from 6 until 7 September 2014, this year’s North Lands international conference will explore expansive themes around glass, contemporary art and craft, historical and social influence and local culture in this unique Highland setting.
Glass Master Class sessions take place on 27 August – 4 September and 9 – 16and will focus on art works in relation to place, acknowledging how artists and their work connect to their surroundings, landscape, architecture, history and social context.
It may come as a surprise to some, that one of the world’s most prestigious centres for the study and development of glass as an art form, should be housed in this rugged and remote area on the Caithness coastland just 30 miles from John O’Groats.
However, given the elemental power of this extraordinary landscape, its ‘last great wilderness location’ is exactly right. For almost 20 years, North Lands has provided first-rate facilities, opportunities and inspiration to artists working with glass from all over the world.
Commenting on the conference and master classes, North Lands’ Artistic Director, Emma Woffenden says: “We are seeing more interactive public art and 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.
“The idea of The Place and The Work is to let the unique qualities of North Lands’ surroundings influence the art works, giving artists the experience of being open to nature, face new qualities of light and scale.”
The opening of a bright and spacious new workshop and purpose built log cabin accommodation at North Lands earlier this year has widened the scope and range of the techniques on offer, as well as developing North Lands’ activities.
Trish Roan is an artist whose work has been influenced by North Lands and its surroundings: “During my time at North Lands, I wanted to make a piece that was specific to where we were and that would be a way for me to engage with my surroundings. I made an instrument that would be played by the wind and tuned to create different sounds depending on which direction the wind was coming from.
“Anyone who spends time in Lybster always comments on the wind, this ever-present and defining aspect of life on the Northern Scottish coast. I was thinking about the history of fishing in the area and how important an understanding of the winds would be for livelihoods built on going out to sea.”
The Place and The Work will be held at North Lands Creative Glass Master Class sessions run 27 August – 4 September and 9 – 16 September. For more details visit www.northlandsglass.com or email email@example.com
Quatre Bras, Lybster, Caithness KW3 6BN, 01593 72122
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.
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.