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Glass act

For the first time, the New Zealand and Australian glass communities teamed up, to present an inaugural Art Glass conference.

CoLab was held in a number of venues in Whanganui over 15–17 February, bringing together more than 130 local and international glass artists and educators for lectures, demonstrations, panel discussions and masterclasses.

The Colab Conference was hosted by the New Zealand Society of Artists in Glass (NZSAG) and Ausglass Ltd (the Australian Association of Glass Artists), and around 130 delegates attended.

Collaboration was the theme. Ausglass President Kate Nixon says, ‘The conference itself is just the beginning of many artistic partnerships between our two groups. We can expect to see more.’ The two committees jointly selected the 20 New Zealand and international artists participating, who demonstrated different aspects of collaboration and innovation with glass as a focus.

‘As a non-Glassy it was heartening to witness how vibrant, dedicated and networked the glass community is,’ said keynote speaker Emma Bugden. ‘Adelaide artist Tom Moore's presentation gave me much to ponder, managing to be ridiculously witty while addressing the dirty great elephant in the room that is glass art's relationship to carbon emissions.’

The CoLab Chandelier at Sarjeant gallery

The CoLab Chandelier project was led by Martinborough’s Crystal Chain Gang - glass artists Jim Dennison and Leanne Williams (AZ #9). The couple, who work collaboratively in life and in their studio, say the chain gang metaphor illustrates the hard graft of teamwork necessary to create a beautiful finished object. Jim and Leanne constructed the chandelier from multiple components made by members from both organizations. It uses blown, pressed, cast, fused, lampworked and stained glass. Emma describes the ‘eclectic exuberance’ of the collaborative chandelier, ‘which felt like it got to the heart of the conference theme.’ Sarjeant Gallery’s Jaki Arthur says, ‘to me it is one of the loveliest art works I have seen, all full of haunting organic shapes, glowing, subtle. There’s something very otherworldly about it.’

Located in the Sarjeant’s main gallery, the chandelier will hang in place until 12 May.

First published ArtZone #78


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