Artists Monster Chetwynd, Ryan Gander, Katie Paterson and Pascale Marthine Tayou were invited by National Glass Centre, to create a new glass work as part of Glass Exchange, which is open until Sunday, September 11, 2022.
Glass Exchange celebrates Sunderland’s status as a world-leading centre for producing glass art and draws on Wearside’s strong history in glass-making. The artworks were developed by the artists in collaboration with some of the most highly skilled glass makers in the UK, based at National Glass Centre, and can be seen in and around Sunderland and Durham, including a vacant shop in Sunderland city centre, Durham Cathedral, and National Glass Centre.
"Glass Exchange is an exciting, ambitious series of exhibitions which is understandably attracting national attention and I urge people to go and see it,” said Rebecca Ball, Chief Executive at Sunderland Culture, which has delivered the project.
None of the artists chosen had a history in working in glass, and Glass Exchange has been two years in the making.
“I wanted to aim high"
Ryan Gander’s commission is a life-sized abandoned betting shop, created in glass, and sited in a vacated tanning salon on High Street West in Sunderland city centre. Ghost Shop has all fixtures and fittings made in clear glass, including details such as an upturned bin spilling out discarded betting slips, and a pile of unopened post.
Ryan said: “It’s been a pleasure to work in Sunderland and the team at National Glass Centre – who are just insanely talented. No one else in the UK would have been capable of producing the work. National Glass Centre is a unique place, there’s nowhere else with the knowledge, skills or network.
“I’ve been in Sunderland for about three weeks working on the installation and people have been so friendly and interested in what we’re doing. People here have time for each other here and they’re far more approachable.”
His commission, a comment on the state of the UK’s High Streets, came about after a lunch with National Glass Centre Head of Arts Julia Stephenson: “I wanted to aim high and I’m used to curators saying it can’t be done, but when I explained I wanted to create a life-sized discarded betting shop, Julia said yes straight away.”
That conversation was two years ago, and now, after months of planning and 100 days of making, Ghost Shop is open.
Monster Chetwynd’s commission, The Life of St Bede, is sited in the timeless beauty of Durham Cathedral. Her work features four colourful and imaginative dioramas capturing key scenes from the life of St Bede. Chetwynd’s commission is on display in the Galilee Chapel at Durham Cathedral until Sunday, September 11 2022.
Monster said: “The dedicated hours that have gone into the art pieces feel enormous. There were site visits and many exchanges of ‘problem solving’ over two years. I made cardboard models to 1:1 scale and the same again in fired clay.
“The assembling of the hot glass and lamp work only finally came together very recently. We had to face so many questions: Do the colours complement? Does the lighting allow the glass to resonate and seduce the eye? Do the plinths work or detract?
“The team I worked with through the National Glass Centre - Julia Stephenson, James Maskrey, Ayako Tani, Kalki Mansel – have been brilliant, sincere and earnest in marrying and merging my ideas. I am impressed and feel ‘high’ from the collaboration.”
"Working with James has been a privilege”
Part of Katie Paterson‘s work on Glass Exchange is also being shown in Durham Cathedral. She is creating two inter-related projects which tell the story of earthly existence: a series of hand-blown hourglasses containing material from before the Sun existed; and a glass urn filled with a dust that spans billions of years including the evolution of humankind over the last few millennia.
Requiem will be exhibited at Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh from Saturday, April 9, until Saturday, June 11, before being shown at National Glass Centre from Saturday, June 18, until Sunday, September 11, 2022.
A timepiece, from the series, The Moment, will be displayed at Durham Cathedral and National Glass Centre.
Katie said: “It’s been a joy to work with master glass blower James Maskrey, who has translated my scraps of ideas into beautifully crafted objects. I’ve never before had the opportunity to work in hot glass, so to be able to work with James at this level, in a world-class centre of glass making, has been a privilege.
“James has made more than 400 glass objects for Requiem and has really pushed the limits of scale whilst retaining a delicacy of the forms. I’m really happy with the results.”
"An exchange of ideas, creativity and knowledge”
Pascale Marthine Tayou presents Colonial Ghost, which invites the viewer to consider connections between colonisation and the growth of Christianity in African countries. The artwork consists of 32 Christian crosses, each made using five human figures. The nails adjacent to each figure are important to the work, echoing Christ’s crucifixion.
Following its recent display at Sunderland Minster, Colonial Ghost is shown running the full length of National Glass Centre’s Balcony Gallery until Sunday, September 11.
Rebecca Ball from Sunderland Culture added: “We’re thrilled and proud with the results of Glass Exchange. As the title of the project suggests, this was about an exchange of ideas, creativity and knowledge between four of the country’s most respected contemporary artists and our uniquely talented team of glass makers at National Glass Centre.
“The results are truly inspiring and the diversity of the responses to our original brief is amazing. We’re hugely grateful to the artists, the fantastic venues we’ve worked with and our team led by Julia Stephenson, James Maskrey and Erin Dickson. The way in which our team realised the ideas and creativity of our artists was outstanding.”
Glass Exchange is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence Fund, with additional funding from Art Fund, Henry Moore Foundation and the Coastal Communities Fund, and with thanks to the University of Sunderland and Durham Cathedral.
For further details please visit https://sunderlandculture.org.uk/glass-exchange