How I made an exhibition of myself.

Frauenau, Bavaria.
Frauenau, Bavaria.

August the 1st. Arrived in Germany. The culmination of months of work and I was there to help set up my first solo show at the Galerie am Museum, Frauenau.

Bild-werk glass academy was in full swing with students and tutors from all over the world descending on this small town in Bavaria to learn, exchange ideas and experience the unique atmosphere. If you haven't been, I urge you to go if you can. I have taught there myself a couple of times so it was beginning to feel familiar, like a second glass home.

It was during my first teaching week last september that Sissi Zizlsperger, the manager of the Galerie an Museum invited me to have a solo show there. I almost bit off her hand! 

A strong box, upholstery foam and an automatic breadknife. All you need for packing
A strong box, upholstery foam and an automatic breadknife. All you need for packing

I spent most of this year in the UK in my studio, didn't see much of my husband in the UAE or anybody much at all. Head down and immersed in glass. Veering wildly from crippling self doubt, to euphoria when things went OK, then back to sleepless nights... repeat until exhausted. Eventually though, I just had to crack on.

Logistics always baffle me, and the thought of shipping all this work to Germany was worrying me. I'm a pretty good packer (no bubble wrap or polystyrene chips for me, oh no!) but things can break or get lost in transit so I was very grateful to have an offer from friends to hand deliver the whole lot. Utterly Brilliant. Dear Jacqueline and Mark Cooley I am so grateful. Jaqueline is a professional glass artist and Mark has in the past been a professional driver so they had to be the dream team!


Sissi helping us decide where to bang in the nails
Sissi helping us decide where to bang in the nails

Engraving on clear glass has some very specific requirements that don't apply to colour or cameo work, so when Sissi said I could display the work any way I wanted, I didn't hesitate. The room had already been painted black some years ago for the 2007 exhibition "1000 glass miles - from Stourbridge to Frauenau"  but we went a step further and blacked out all the windows as well. Quite dramatic. But there is was, the atmosphere instantly became still.  When the glass was spotlit, the focus was entirely on the engraving. It was just as I'd hoped it would look when I was planning it all in the barnio, probably better. All thanks to Sissi and Pavel who brought their perfectionism, attention to detail and patience.

We were all chilled, even when a heavy glass cabinet door fell off its hinges and landed inches from all my work waiting on the floor. No damage done and only 3 heart attacks. 

The whole exhibition. Exactly as I hoped it would look
The whole exhibition. Exactly as I hoped it would look

All done! A very special afternoon spent with Erwin Eisch and a private walk through of the exhibition. 

I think it was at this point I went up a hill. Always my instinctive reaction when I need to get some perspective and calm down a bit.  A gentle slope up with a nice bar at the top for a cold beer.


Finally. Opening night. Lovely introductory speeches from Eberhard Eisch, Alison Kinnaird and dear brave wounded Sissi Zizlsperger, and I even had a go as well, briefly. I appear to be holding hands with myself (well what do you do with them?) but no nerves at all even though I am painfully shy.


Bild-werk turned out in force and we all went off to the BBQ afterwards and sat round the fire with a beer. Top night!

You can see all the work here








Here we go! I've got that end of term feeling.

6 months of concentrated work all finished and being installed (as I write) in the Galerie Eisch in Frauenau, Germany for my solo show. It opens next week and I will be there, trying to look cool in my tesco top and hoping for the best. 


The theme of the show "mirror mirror' is image and reflection. There are pieces where the reflection is literal, with duplicated faces and figures mirroring each other, or works where the reflection is personal, the water gilded mirror finish allowing the viewer to participate in the artwork by seeing themselves in the glass. The 'now you see me, now you don't' mirrors have mysterious figures hidden behind the gilding, only visible from certain view points, and 'fabulous beasts' are bright and shiny with reflective wing cases.


 As with most of my work these pieces are representational and figurative but operate in a world of magical realism. The faces are not portraits and the insects are not found in any field guide, but they are no less real.

All the works can be found here














Glorious beasts


July: These colourful gilded creatures are new additions to my 'studio collection'. Deeply engraved, they are inlaid with 22ct gold leaf and pink silver leaf. They are currently for sale at the CAA gallery , the Ferrers Gallery until the 4th of September, and the Gallery at Waterperry Gardens.  I make more as they are sold or ordered direct, but no two are ever alike. They are priced at £150 wherever you buy one. Only fair!


I'm in a bit of a hiatus at the moment waiting to go back to Germany for the opening of my first solo show. I've had my head down in my studio since January making more than two dozen pieces for "mirror mirror" at the Eisch Gallery  and only now getting back to a normal way of working.  


I am finding it helpful to distinguish my 'studio collection' pieces from my more ... how shall I say ... arty emotional work. I think the two sides of my practice will become even more separated as I have ideas brewing ...


I often suspect that engraved work is a little 'quiet' and consequently it is difficult to ask a price which reflects the many hours of work and the skill required to produce good engraving by hand. I am realising that size matters, and may be key in giving people confidence in investing in a piece of my work. Consequently, my show will include several substantial 6.5kg optical crystal blocks which are certainly not shrinking violets! Let's see if they make an impact, and not only by dropping one on your foot.




engraved  crystal with gold and silver leaf





looking back, looking forward.

behold! the tree. it's just the job in a modern apartment, probably not for a17c cottage in rural england, but we spent christmas in the city this year with our toes in the arabian gulf. 


in the hiatus between solstice, christmas and the new year, i'm thinking about the the past year. most good stuff began with a 'b'... british glass biennale, bild-werk, biarritz and bordeaux spring to mind as high points, but let's not forget the buns, beer, bristol and the beach. there were a few more work related highs which are well documented in previous blog posts so we'll leave it there. enough looking back, that's not the direction we're going in is it!


2016 is already starting to fill up with exciting stuff, but sadly none of it fits neatly into an alphabetical list. 





in september when i was teaching at bild-werk i was invited to have a solo show at the eisch gallery in frauenau. it is a wonderful dedicated glass gallery with a black walled room perfect for showing engraving. i won't be filling the whole gallery (it is huge)  but the little black room is all mine.


i was asked to think about a theme and then spent the 6 weeks before christmas in my studio making the first 3 pieces. now i'm back in studio no2 (a tiny desk that looks like children's furniture) and this is today's effort. not sure it will make the cut but it does fit the theme. the title of my show will be "mirror mirror" or "speiglien speiglien" from the fairy story. the glass has been water gilded on the back around the engraving and looks like an aged mirror (which may not be obvious in the pic) 



i've got until august to come up with around 20 pieces or so that are the best work i can possibly manage. there are a few hurdles, such as sourcing good custom made metal frames for the large wall pieces, the logistical challenge of being in the right country at the right time, and getting all the work to germany in one piece. nothing that can't be sorted (usually by hurling cash at it)


i wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. let's do it!