Thursday, 18 September 2008

Lynette Campbell Glass Art Retrospective

Lynette Campbell died in 2005, cutting all too short a life devoted to making glass. I blogged last year about the enjoyment I get from the pieces of hers I have. Now there's to be a retrospective exhibition of work she left behind, which will provide an opportunity for others to acquire and enjoy Lyn's glass art. Burning Issues is the gallery in Whangārei where Lynette was blowing again just before her death. It was set up by Keith Mahy, who taught Lyn glass blowing at Northland Polytech, beginning in 1989. So it's a really appropriate gallery to host such an exhibition. There's a preview at 5pm on Friday 26 September, and the exhibition runs from then until October 23rd. If you can be anywhere near Whangārei during that period, do go and have a look at this exhibition - it promises to be fabulous. Burning Issues is in the Harbour Basin complex in Whangārei, down by the river.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Tony Kuepfer Tall Glass Bottles from the 1980s

I have mentioned before my enthusiasm for the distinctive tall bottles Tony Kuepfer made at his Inglewood glass studio in the 1970s and 1980s. From time to time when one becomes available I will add it to my collection, which now numbers about 35 of them.

In March I presented three of these bottles to the New Dowse Museum in Lower Hutt following my loan of the bottles for their Doreen Blumhardt exhibition last year. The Dowse did not have an example in their collection, so they were pleased to accept them.

Sadly, I also broke one, an early example I have had for a while. But in May a TradeMe dealer from New Plymouth, from whom I have bought glass previously, offered this piece, which I was pleased to buy. It seemed to me to be a later piece, with the elongated neck not so dysfunctionally thin as in Tony's early examples. The mis-shapen lip is a distinctive Kuepfer feature, and the colour is also a favourite of Tony's.

As with most of these bottles, it is not signed, though it is unquestionably Tony Kuepfer's work. However, I was delighted when only a couple of weeks later this very similar signed bottle appeared on TradeMe. It had what I considered an unreasonably high reserve, but after it was passed in a couple of times, the trader put it on again with a much more reasonable reserve, which I was pleased to accept - I was the only bidder. It has the engraved signature AWK '85, as well as a stick on paper label from a previous owner. This is one of relatively few dated tall bottles, but the date confirms my opinion that this wider necked form without surface decoration is later than the very thin necked pieces with the palmate designs.

The unsigned piece, top left, is 38 cm tall, while the signed one, right, is 33cm tall. I have another couple of similar but smaller examples, which I don't yet have good photos of (see my last post on photography!)

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Photographing New Zealand Glass Isn't Easy - for me anyway

It's been a while since I blogged, but I'm going to try to do so more regularly. One of the things that does slow me up is photography - I've found glass a very challenging medium to photograph. That's partly because I don't have a good lighting setup at home, which links to the ongoing problems I have getting the colour balance right. Since colour is such an important part of glass art, getting it right is really important.

So I was thrilled to learn that veteran decorative art photographer Howard Williams is offering a short one day course on photographing glass. Howard has had a long involvement photographing glass and ceramics in New Zealand, and he produces superb work. His course is aimed at glass artists to help them produce good photos of their own work, but I have been accepted as well. I'm really looking forward to this, and hoping to be able to improve what I do considerably.

The proof of the pudding will be in the blogging, as they say. The course is not until mid August, so I'll be using my existing skills for a while yet

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Glass from the TV Factory

In the 1960s and 1970s, television sets were made in several factories in New Zealand, one being the Philips factory at NaeNae in Lower Hutt. The glass valves and cathode ray tubes used in the TVs of the day were made by skilled glass workers. In their breaks, these people used their glass blowing skills to make items for their families, or to raise money for their social club. The lady who recently sold me the swans on TradeMe said:

The “art glass” items made at the Philips factory were made by the glass blowers who made the components for the radio & TVs. They normally made TV tubes and valve casings etc, but when they made a few of these art items in their spare time, they proved quite popular with the staff. The art items were not made generally available to the public and could only be got by or through staff members. The set of swans you have purchased came to me from an aunty who worked at Philips during the late 60s & early 70s. The social club used to sell batches of the glass wares to raise money from time to time. They are quite appealing but are distinctive in their rather thick and chunky appearance, and sometimes slightly rough cut from the blow pipe.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Katie Brown at Chronicle Glass

Going to the recent conference of NZ Society of Artists in Glass in Whanganui gave me the chance to visit Chronicle Glass and see the work of Katie Brown, and indeed to watch her blowing glass. I bought three of her wonderful Whispers, like those shown in the photo here, from the Wanganui Glass Group website. I bought a group of three red ones - they are stunning.

Katie completed a Diploma in Glass at Wanganui in 1999, and then had the opportunity to work with Josh Simpson in Massachusetts and Neil Wilkin in the UK. With Lyndsay Patterson she is one of the partners at Chronicle Glass, a wonderful open studio in Wanganui where you can see glass making, and indeed try it yourself on one of their introductory courses.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Libby Gray's Name is Perhaps Not Well Known

A recent acquisition of a piece signed L.G. '81 N.Z. is a reminder that some NZ glass artists are not well recognised, and their work is thus readily available to those who know what they atre looking for.

Quite a number of glass artists worked with Tony Kuepfer in Inglewood, as assistants, students and colleagues, while others continued at the studio after he left to teach at Whanganui.

Libby Gray came to spend a week or so at the studio in 1978, then moved to Inglewood in 1979 or 80, and worked full time there for several years. I have pieces in my collection dated between 1981 and 1984. She moved to Wellington to work for the Crafts Council in 1985 or 86, and later moved to Whanganui, as an administrator at Unicol.

I have slowly been adding pieces of Libby's work to my collection as opportunity allows, but the best pieces I have seen are in her own collection, which she kindly showed me a few years ago.