Thursday, 30 September 2010

A New Old Mel Simpson Bottle

I have been delighted recently to acquire one of the oldest pieces by Mel Simpson that I know. The TradeMe vendor said it had been identified by Cordy's in Newmarket as a being piece by Mel. I was intrigued, since it looked more like a Kuepfer bottle, so I wondered how Cordy's knew. The vendor then said that in fact it was signed on the base. So imagine my delight when it arrived in the mail to discover not only Mel's name but the date '77 there too, in upper and lower case script - Mel Simpson '77.

After completing his BFA at Elam and MFA in Design at Illinois, Mel studied glass at UCLA in 1975, with help from the (then) QEII Arts Council. He then came back to New Zealand to set up the glass studio at Elam. 1977 must have been almost his first year of production in New Zealand.

This tall bottle form was a favourite of Tony Kuepfer's - I have blogged about Tony's bottles previously. The earliest bottles of Tony's I have seen date
from about this same time - Tony signed few of his early pieces, and dated fewer, sadly. The similarity of form makes me wonder if one of them stimulated the other - I know they were in contact about this period. This is the only bottle like this that I have seen of Mel's, while Tony made a couple of hundred, he thinks - I have about thirty five of them. This bottle is 33.5cm high, much larger than the other Mel Simpson piece I have from 1977, shown at right, which is 9cm high, and also signed MEL SIMPSON '77, in the block capitals that form his more usual signature.