What do you do?
I make blown and carved glass sculptures that have biological sort of influences, like, the symmetrical structures in cells. I’m also really interested in the optical qualities of glass and the sort of trippy reflections you can get.
Describe your art
Normally I have fairly solid pieces where I trap a bubble of air inside a solid piece of glass and that bubble reflects some sort of pattern that I’ve carved into the glass. Then I have lenses that act as windows to the bubble so that you can get a little view. I guess I like to think that I’m looking at microscopic patterns.
What inspires you?
I don’t know, just that feeling of wonder: in nature, in the design that nature comes up with, which is crazier than people can come up with [laughs].
Do you have a favourite piece?
I think the most recent pieces that I’ve done. There’s more colour and I guess it’s a bit more graphically interesting than my older work, where I had been working a lot in black and white; and with what’s called a Graal technique.
When do you find yourself being most creative?
In the studio when I’m working. While I’m working I might see something interesting that I hadn’t noticed before. And that makes me think ‘what if I do this next time’. My work is, it’s not like each work is a completely different idea, it’s like a progression of one exploration, I guess.
What kinds of comments do you get about your work?
I guess I enjoy it when I see or hear people express wonder like, they don’t quite understand. Yeah, people questioning what they’re seeing. That’s kind of exciting to me, because that’s the kind of feeling that you get when you look at nature, and see something amazing, and are like ‘how’s that possible?’.
What do you think appeals to people about your work?
I’d like to think, or, it might be me just hoping but well, even if people might not know how it’s made, that they can appreciate the quality, of how much time and effort I’ve put into the surfaces and stuff like that. I don’t know, I think people are drawn to symmetry, people are drawn to nature. I guess I kind of hope that the patterns in the work resonate with people because they’re not direct copies of anything in nature but they reference those frameworks of which nature is sometimes based.
How long will you sit with a piece until it’s finished?
It does vary. I make the blank in the hot shop with a team of glass blowers and that might take an hour, an hour and a half, then they go into an annealing kiln for a week so they cool down gradually. They need to cool down slowly because the glass needs to be the same temperature throughout or else they’ll crack. So they anneal for a week and then I’ll take them into the cold workshop when and I’ll use stone or diamond wheels to grind on a glass cutting lathe, to cut through layers of colour and create a pattern. And that’s usually between thirty, thirty five hours work. And then, some of them have quite a lot of hand sanding as well, so that’s quite time consuming, they’re a lot of work.
What was the inspiration/influence that directed you to this path?
Well, I went to UniSA and I did two strands of art – I did painting and I did glass. And I think it was just one of those things where if I didn’t like glass I would do painting. I don’t ever really consider myself a sculpture or a sculptural artist but I think with glass I feel more free to do abstract-y sort of stuff. With painting, I was like ‘what do I paint?’. I used to like painting animals, but I just felt like I didn’t want to paint animals my whole life. Whereas with glass I guess I’m so interested in the material that it sort of helps me along with making something interesting that isn’t totally illustrative, it’s a bit more abstract. I feel like my wonder in the material drives the direction of the work and part of the work is about sharing that wonder with the viewer.
What are your influences?
The prints of Ernst Haeckel in the book Art Forms in Nature, which just has the most amazing illustrations of symmetrical forms in nature; and then just my general love of nature, and being outdoors, discovering new things. But also, Bridget Riley’s Op Art from the 60’s big black and white paintings, very crisp lines, they’re illusions. They have that sense of wonder that I hope people get when they’re trying to figure out what’s going on in my work. And I guess just in general the glass community in Adelaide and Australia; there are a lot of artists that I draw different things from. Like, there’s Ben Edols and Kathy Elliot from Sydney who do amazing carvings of natural forms and Kevin Gordon who does amazing organic shapes; Sea Urchin is my favourite one. It’s a really good community of really hard working people, so I guess I’m inspired to work hard by their influence.
What constitutes as your first piece?
When I was in second year uni I did these pieces, I think it was called The Inversion Series, and they were these flattened pieces where I did this sand blasted pattern and engraved an animal on the back. The national glass collection is in Wagga Wagga. So, they started up this student glass competition and I was selected as a finalist and I went over there and it was really exciting because the collector bought one of my pieces for the national collection.
How do your first pieces compare to your most recent pieces?
Well, I guess because the glass was thick, I was interested in how that imagery was appearing to stretch around the edges, around the curves. So, from the start I’ve been looking at the distortive qualities of glass. They were all clear, and the pattern etched on the back was a bit more subtle. I think the pieces I do now are bolder in terms of colour, with the really sharp reflections on the inside.
What do you hope happens in the next year?
I hope that I have a studio to work in; I hope to set up a glass cutting lathe at home and get plenty of work made. I’ve got a show in May 2015, at Sabbia, a glass and ceramics gallery in Sydney, it’s probably the best one in Australia, so I’m really excited about that. It’s just a little solo show, and the glass artists Ben Edols and Kathy Elliot have got their show downstairs, and I’m upstairs so I’m really excited. I think I’ll do some smaller projects here and there and enter a few different things and try to keep busy making work but I really want to have a good body of new work for that exhibition.
Where can we find your stuff?
Being exhibited at BMGArt Gallery until February 22 2014