New York artist returns to Sunderland to get inspiration from home town

Work by Linda Mason at the National Glass Centre
Work by Linda Mason at the National Glass Centre
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A New York artist who has worked with the top couturiers in the world has fashioned an exhibition in Sunderland.

During her time as a make up artist in the ‘70s, Linda Mason changed the face of the art form helping to revolutionise the way it was used on the Paris catwalks for the likes of Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani and John Galliano.

Work by Linda Mason at the National Glass Centre

Work by Linda Mason at the National Glass Centre

She’s since turned her hand to gallery art and her latest display has seen her return to her Sunderland roots.

Linda enlisted the help of pupils from her former school, Fulwell Juniors, to help her craft a colourful display inspired by Seaburn beach.

She returned to Sunderland seafront, the scene of many of her happiest childhood memories, last summer to photograph the pupils as they built sandcastles and larked about on the beach.

A year later those images now inform A Day At The Beach, which has gone on display at National Glass Centre.

Linda Mason and her work on display at the National Glass Centre

Linda Mason and her work on display at the National Glass Centre

It features laser-cut glass images of some of the children playing, as well as glass sandcastles and a quirky twist on the classic chess set.

Linda, who fuses fashion with fine art at her New York gallery, said it was a delight to create pieces for her home town.

“I’ve always followed glass making in Sunderland and would often go to the Hartley Wood factory when I was younger,” she said. “Then when the National Glass Centre opened I thought it was a fabulous way of continuing that.

“The light is incredible here, which is why I think it’s important to keep glass going here. I remember when I worked in Paris I would always try and convince photographers to come here, but we always ended up doing shoots in places like South Africa instead.”

Linda, whose skill with a make up brush has seen her work with the likes of Cameron Diaz, Uma Thurman, and Charlize Theron, said: “I had a great time in Paris with make up and I became known for my more creative work. It was a natural evolution to painting and my Linda Mason Gallery.”

She added: “The possibility came up for me to work on a project at the National Glass Centre so I put a proposal forward to them. I love the beach, I used to spend all my time at the Cat And Dog Steps. I wanted an exhibition that brought the outside in.”

Working with the children helped to shape the exhibition and they visited the gallery to make clay moulds which have been turned into sculptural and glass pieces in a chess set.

Linda said: “The idea started as a glass sandcastles, but some of the children started doing gymnastics in the sand and they’ve become giant figures on the wall.

“Then some of the pieces are like the pork pie sandcastle made from buckets, I liked the idea of them crumbling. The children were split into six groups for the sandcastles and each one had their own personalities, which came out in the castles. Then they trampled them at the end, they had a great time.”

Linda also worked alongside glass artists Effie Burns and Erin Dickson for the display which showcases various techniques in the medium, including blown glass, cast glass and sculptural glass.

l A Day At The Beach is on display at National Glass Centre until October 4.