Sunday, 11 September 2011

Karen Hope Made Glass in Whanganui

One of the exciting things about collecting New Zealand glass is the opportunity to make a new discovery, new to me at least.  In December 2010 a trader on TradeMe offered this piece with the description 'Karen Hope perfume bottle with removable stopper, signed and dated by artist, app. 8cm high, modern design in shape and size, is in perfect condition white swirl line rotating the glass with a yellow translucent inner set glass.'

I knew from my archival research that Karen had exhibited at Masterworks in Auckland in 1990 and at an exhibition in Wellington in 1991.  I had never seen any of her work, and beyond those mentions I knew nothing of Karen Hope, but it looked like a good piece.  I paid the 'Buy Now' price. It is signed 'Karen Hope '90', as well as having a paper label with 'Karen Hope' in ink.

The vendor wasn't able to tell me anything, but Google produced a mention in Anthony Genet's (FlameDaisy) biography on the Thornton Gallery website of a highlight in his learning having come from a workshop with Karen Hope (among others).  That set off a trail of enquiries to Anthony, Tony Kuepfer and Lyndsay Patterson, who were as always very helpful.  Lyndsay made enquiries of Nigel Jones at the Wanganui Glass School as well.  Glass people are always helpful and friendly in my experience.


The Charlotte Museum Trust has two of Karen's (or is it Kharen's?) s pieces- you can see them at The piece shown here is a portrait of her grandmother who wanted to be a doctor but was not allowed, and so she married a doctor as the only way to do it.

Maybe I'll get to meet Karen some time and find out about her directly, but what I have established is that she was a student at Whanganui under Tony Kuepfer in the late 1980s.  She went to England and spent some time improving her glass skills there, then returned to Whanganui about 1992, when she became a tutor at the former Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic School of Glass.  Sadly, about 1996 she developed repetitive strain injury and had to give up making glass.  She sold Lyndsay Patterson some of the glass making tools she had bought in England - they were made by Ivan Smith, a specialist toolmaker for glass, and Lindsay treasures and uses them still.

I'll be keen to see more of Karen's work, or to find out more about her career in glass, so if you can help, please let me know.