Monday, 29 July 2013

Inglewood Cards Provide Great Provenance

I mentioned in my last post the great provenance provided for a recent acquisition by a catalogue from the first Philips Studio Glass Award exhibition in 1984. Here's a piece of Chuck Simpson's glass I purchased recently, which also has a great confirmation of its provenance.

This is clearly signed  'Chuck Simpson', so there can be no doubt who made it. But Chuck Simpson made glass at Byron Bay in Australia before he came to Inglewood with Lesley Justin in 1987, and he made glass at Eumundi in Queensland after he and Lesley, by then his wife, returned to Australia in 1990. It is typical of glass he made at Inglewood, but it is great to have its New Zealand origin confirmed by the marketing card that came with it.


But that is not the first Inglewood piece to have come with its own marketing card.  The piece to the left is signed 'Glass Art NZ', a name which seems to have been used both by Chuck and Lesley Simpson and by Andrew Williams, though that is not currently totally clear. All three of them were doing quite similar work, as individually signed pieces by each of them demonstrate.
When I purchased it on TradeMe, it came with a small laminated card, printed on both sides.
The card is delightful for the stylised sketch of the Inglewood church and studio where Tony Kuepfer first set up the studio that he called Glass Plant, subsequently used by Chuck and Lesley and by Andrew. 

This photo, taken in Inglewood in October 2012, shows that the church, with the concrete block studio that Tony Kuepfer built, has reverted to its original religious purpose.


The small vase at the right is also signed 'Glass Art NZ', but the card that came with it leaves no doubt that this was indeed made by Andrew Williams. The metallic sheen on the card and its slightly crumpled state makes it a little hard to photograph. I wonder who is represented in the drawing?
It is also interesting to see Andrew playing on the history of the Inglewood studio in his marketing. I'm not sure if he was aware of Reg Kempton's studio at Havelock, but Reg had died by this time, so the claim would seem to me to be correct.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Recent Mel Simpson Acquisitions

Mel Simpson was one of the pioneers of studio glass in New Zealand, and one of the founders of the NZ Society Artists of in Glass (1980), which continues today as the national glass artists' organisation in NZ.

Mel learnt his glass-blowing in the USA at UCLA (1975), having gone to the US to do a post-graduate design degree (Illinois 1974), but he discovered glass while he was there. His first degree was BFA from Elam School of Fine Arts at Auckland (1971) and he returned to Elam to teach. He established the glass facilities there with a QEII grant in 1978. Ann Robinson, Garry Nash, Peter Raos and others were all students of his there. He received two further QEII awards in 1981 and 1983, and exhibited widely in NZ and overseas between 1980 and 1993.

I was pleased to acquire this piece of Mel's on TradeMe recently. It is signed MEL SIMPSON 1979, making it one of the earlier pieces of his that I have. It's a thick walled, heavy circular vase, with an integral 'saucer' shape at the base. Underneath it has had quite a bit of grinding to make it sit smoothly. Because it is so thick, it's hard to determine the colour of the glass, but it's probably dark blue rather than black. The surface has been lightly iridised.
It is 14.5cm high.
I don't think it is one of his best pieces.

However, Mel persisted with the general idea of trailed decoration on the outside of an iridised vessel, making this very much more successful rectangular box in 1984. While still quite heavy, it is lighter and thinner walled, and the base grinding is better handled.  The whole body is iridised, except for the rim, which has been left plain.  It is signed M S 84, and is 13.5cm high.

I bought this on TradeMe as well, and I was especially pleased with it because it is so well provenanced. The parents of the person selling it had bought it at the 1984 Philips Studio Glass Award exhibition at Auckland Museum. Even better,they had retained the catalogue showing the piece and that was included in the Trademe auction.It was number 37 in the catalogue, and cost them $90, rather less than I paid for it, but I was very pleased to get such a well provenanced piece. It is described in the catalogue as "Blue Box (fumed)", and is one of the pieces selected to be illustrated in the catalogue. To have an illustrated catalogue was quite sophisticated at the time, but sadly the small monochrome images don't do justice to the pieces shown.