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Sunderland glass blower’s pride and artists’ tributes to his ‘insanely talented’ team

The highly skilled glass blower behind a major exhibition at National Glass Centre has spoken of his pride at his team’s work with four leading artists.

Friday, 24th June 2022, 11:42 am

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Master glass blower James Maskrey has worked for the University of Sunderland in the centre since 2001, including 15 months on the Glass Exchange project.

Artists Ryan Gander, Monster Chetwynd, Katie Paterson and Pascale Marthine Tayou were invited to create new glass works as part of the project, displayed across four venues until September.

Glass Exchange celebrates Sunderland’s status as a world leader for glass art, drawing on Wearside’s strong historic links with glass.

Master glass blower James Maskrey with a glass pedal bin produced for Ryan Gander's Ghost Shop. Picture by David Wood.

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The four commissions can be seen in venues including Sunderland city centre, Durham Cathedral and National Glass Centre itself.

James’ work on the project started with Ryan’s Ghost Shop, a glass betting shop created in empty premises on High Street West. Next came a start on Pascale’s Colonial Ghost, consisting of 32 crosses, each with five human figures.

Work on Ghost Shop overlapped with work on Katie’s two projects. The Moment is a series of hand-blown hourglasses containing material from before the Sun existed. Requiem is a glass urn filled with a dust that spans billions of years.

Last came Monster Chetwynd’s The Life of St Bede; four colourful and dioramas with scenes from the life of the saint, on display in the Galilee Chapel at Durham Cathedral until September 11.

Originally from Surrey, James came to Sunderland to study an MA in glass in and is now senior technician in glass at National Glass Centre.

He said: “I’m proud to have been part of the project, it’s the largest I’ve worked on by some distance and the finished results are quite remarkable.

“I cannot thank my assistants enough and it’s been a great pleasure and privilege to work alongside such a great team of talented makers and artists.”

James acknowledges his colleagues Kalki Mansel, Antonis Koutouzis, Aaron Beck, Erin Dickson, Tom Jordan, Jade Tapson, Anna Selway and Ayako Tani.

Ryan Gander said: “It’s been a pleasure to work in Sunderland and the team at National Glass Centre who are just insanely talented.”

Katie Paterson added: “To work with James at this level, in a world-class centre of glass making, has been a privilege."

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