Inside, Out: Exhibition of the Scottish Glass Society 2015
Coburg House Art Gallery
The Inside, Out exhibition showcased the work of 34 Scottish glass artists, with students and newcomers to glass comfortably sharing the display space with long-established artists such as Douglas Hogg and Alison Kinnaird. It captured current glass practice in many different forms, both traditional and innovative.
Many pieces took glass beyond its usual transparent, shiny ‘glassy’ form. Tao Shen’s Airware Cups transformed recycled glass into a light, foamy substance which contrasted with the clear blown glass elements of the piece. Susan Ratliff’s Down Below could almost pass for a series of boot-prints formed with metal or clay, while Jessamy Kelly actually mixes glass and ceramic material to form her serene Scarred Landscapes.
The glass gallery front made for an ideal space to display architectural glass – so often difficult to exhibit – allowing the colours to glow with natural light. Kate Henderson’s Mother and Child, with rich colour and bold painting, is in fact a tender look at motherhood and the responsibility this calls for. Pow/whap/zam by Meredith Macbeth pushes leaded glass beyond a flat plane. Turning around, I looked into Aimee McCulloch’s three-dimensional Personal Cathedrals: intricately painted immersive worlds to lose yourself in.
The rear of the gallery provided a darker space where illuminated pieces took on a life of their own. Jeff Zimmer’s deep and subtly painted pieces We Were All Wrong and Containment explore different ideas of otherness. Freedom, by Siobhan Healy, is a complex piece exploring personal freedom involving glass, projected images and electricity. Also brought to life by projected images, I can see you by Agelos Papadakis blinked up at me from the floor.
In contrast to this deep thinking, humour played a large part in many artists’ work: If your heart is on your sleeve you’ll be empty inside and Bottle in a ship by Ian Pearson are unashamedly naïve; Roz McKenzie’s Dae ye hink ma heid buttons up the back? effectively contrasts Scots slang with traditional, ecclesiastical stained glass techniques and Vicky Higginson’s Fun Follows Function is … well, fun!
Emma Nightingale’s bowl, Connecting Reflections, is the piece I wanted to take home. It is functional and beautiful. Finished to a high standard, the complex subtleties of overlapping stripes within the glass are unhindered.
Interestingly, the artists’ statements ranged from straightforward descriptions of their work to personal reflections, strong opinions and thought-provoking challenges. Glass is a beautiful material in its own right and we are easily seduced by it, but there was much more going on here than met the eye.