Glorious glass exhibition

Flower Power & Pretty Things by Louise Cloke

Flower Power & Pretty Things by Louise Cloke - Credit: Ester Segarra

Be seduced by the alchemy created by some of the South West’s most renowned glass artists in a new exhibition of work, writes Carol Burns

Exhibition display featuring Matthew Walsh's wallpieces, Rubi Koi

Exhibition display featuring Matthew Walsh's wallpieces, Rubi Koi - Credit: Archant

When to comes to art, the medium of glass is among the most seductive. It combines pure colour, with the play of changing light on its surfaces making it a delight to look at – and we haven’t even come to form and structure yet – or the magical way in which it is made.

At the Barbican’s 45 Southside Gallery an impressive array glass techniques and styles has gone on show. The exhibition has been more than a year in the making – with renowned glass artist Richard Glass choosing other artists to worth with before exhibiting the results.

Richard, who manages his Teign Valley Glass workshop at Bovey Tracey, has brought fellow glassmakers and friends together for a week in his newly refurbished workshop – and the 45 Southside Gallery exhibition is the exciting result. The gallery in Plymouth’s historic Barbican opened in 2009 and specialises in glass, ceramics and metalwork by artists living in Devon and Cornwall.

Unlike other artforms, which see an artist working alone in their studio, glassblowing is a joint venture, requiring at least one other person. This exhibition has exploited that by bringing together different artists to work together. And like the ceramics it is often paired with, it skirts the definitions of the decorative and fine art, which allows us to simply respond to each piece with ‘I love it’.

Maggie Williams- Daisy Vessels

Maggie Williams- Daisy Vessels - Credit: Ester Segarra

“Glass is very popular,’ explains gallery owner Mathias Landwehr. “It’s got something because the light shines through it and it changes with the light.”

The resulting range of techniques includes hand glass blowing and hand fused glass from glass artists working at the top of their game and those at the start of their career all with a different approach to glass making. As the exhibition was being curated in early October, pieces were still being made.

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“By exchanging their skills, experiences and creativity within a defined time frame of one week completely new and exciting works of art have been made,” continues Mathias. “I believe this is a great idea which brings out the best of creative minds.”

Richard Glass himself has been working with glass for more than 15 years after studying ceramics and glass and applied art at Plymouth College of Art and Design. He moved on to work at Dartington Crystal as a production glassmaker and gained a master’s degree before realising his ambition to have his own studio identity, Fluid Glass. In 2005 Richard moved his studio to Teign Valley Glass in Bovey Tracey, once used to make specialist handmade marbles for House of Marbles. Richard specialises in organic pieces and sculptural forms that are sure to delight visitors to the exhibition His work pushes he boundaries of how we conceive vessels such as vases and bowls and are becoming highly collectable.

Richard Glass Wave for this exhibition

Richard Glass Wave for this exhibition - Credit: Ester Segarra

“All participating makers are established artists in their own right... each with their own distinctive style,” explains Richard.

All of the glass artists taking part are living in the South West or have strong connections to the region. Amongst them are: Louise Cloke, Matthew and Becky Walsh, Ben Batteson, Phil Atrill, Maggie Williams, Matt Jobling and Thomas Petit.

All work is for sale – which is lucky considering the fortuitous proximity to Christmas – and pieces range in price from £34 to £1,200 – although average prices sit around £60-£120.

“What starts as glass pebbles and a bit of colour becomes quite magical,” adds Mathias.

Where to see it

12 October- 12 November

45 Southside Gallery

45 South Street, Barbican, Plymouth, PL12 2LD

The galley is open 7 days a week

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