Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Early New Zealand Glass Artists' work to be displayed

This year the New Zealand Society of Artists in Glass celebrates its thirtieth anniversary. One of the features of every NZSAG conference these days is an exhibition of members' current work. That will be true again this year, with the added bonus that there will also be included some of the earliest work by the pioneers of studio glass in New Zealand. Artists have been searching their basements to find the earliest examples of their work, but I am delighted to have been asked to lend a few pieces from my own collection. One is the Mel Simpson tall bottle I blogged recently, and another is the 1983 Robert Middlestead stained glass panel I blogged in August 2010. A piece by Libby Gray I blogged in January 2008. Here are some others:

The piece at left is a vase made by Peter Viesnik, signed VIESNIK '80. It was in 1980 that Peter teamed up with the other Peter, Raos, to form the Hot Glass Company that they operated successfully at Devonport until about 1990, when the partners moved on. Much of Peter's (in fact both Peters) early work is not signed, so I was very pleased to come across this in a Whanganui second hand shop in 1995.

I talked about Reg Kempton, New Zealand's first studio glass artist in May 2007, but the piece selected for the NZSAG show is not one I showed then, so here it is. Like all the pieces by Reg that I have seen, this is neither signed nor dated, but it does have the distinctive handwritten paper label that Reg's wife Ellen put on some of his pieces as a marketing tool. Judging from other pieces I have seen my guess is that this was made in the 1970s, though I can't be certain.

And finally, just to get the balance right, here is the piece I am lending by the other Devonport glassie, Peter Raos. This is slightly later, being signed RAOS '83, but it is the earliest signed piece of his I have.

The exhibition should be
well worth seeing, for anyone interested in the history of studio glass in New Zealand, as well as in New Zealand glass artists' current work . It is being held at Essenze Gallery in Parnell Rd, with the opening as part of the NZSAG Conference on Saturday 23 October, and continuing there for public viewing until the following weekend.