Traverse is a major exhibition of New Zealand Glass, directly addressing the significant achievements evident in the three preceding years.
The story of New Zealand glass has for some decades now been dominated by cast glass but this is no longer so. The hot glass work of Stephen Bradbourne, Wendy Fairclough, Luke Jacomb, Lyndsay Patterson and Elizabeth McClure demonstrate a broad array of innovative skills, concerns and techniques which address both the long-tradition of blown (hot) glass and reveal them to be individual masters of their art and craft.
There is also a growing, diverse group of artists working with glass in other ways – John Edgar is a sculptor who assembles glass with stone, building linear patterns and sharp visual combinations. Claudia Borella and Te Rongo Kirkwood use slumping and fusing techniques and carve the surfaces. Emily Siddell combines white ceramic, clear glass and a repetitive technique to produce iconic lei-inspired forms, sourcing as numerous artists do the broad cultural dynamics of New Zealand and the Pacific. Vicki Fanning uses a flame technique of clear glass cut into strips and worked, before being assembled on to a surface structure of cloth over wood.
This three year period viewed in Traverse is “book-ended” by Luke Jacomb’s solo exhibitions at the New Orleans Museum of Art (Sept 2008) and Otago Museum (2011) as well as Evelyn Dunstan’s first major exhibition at Milford Galleries Queenstown. In the latter exhibition, Pathways, Dunstan demonstrates why her work is receiving substantial international acclaim and that she has developed unique idiosyncratic methods, a powerful paradoxical narrative and combined this with literal observations of beauty. Traverse and Pathways should be viewed and considered in conjunction.
Numerous achievements have occurred in this time also. In 2010 Sue Hawker was awarded the important Ranamok Glass Prize. Christine Cathie, Galia Amsel, Claudia Borella, John Edgar have been routinely exhibiting in places as diverse as France, England, Scotland, Hong Kong, Australia, USA.
Christine Cathie and Sue Hawker work in cast glass in vastly different ways but are united by a colourist’s use of expression. Cathie’s primary concerns are with rhythm and altering shape with varied line of sight. Hawker’s astonishing pate de verre deconstructed vases are unique major pioneering developments of an ages old technique. The results are works of remarkable complexity and presence.
Galia Amsel’s work is represented in more museum collections worldwide than any other New Zealand-based artist. Her work is expressive, atmospheric and the visual role performed by the internal space is integral to the drama which unfolds. Her works have elaborately worked surfaces and are geometric, triangulated shapes and forms which twist and change.
Ann Robinson continues to be the pre-eminent figure of New Zealand glass through a process of ceaseless sequential development in her work. She is acknowledged as one of the greatest glass artists of the world and the inventor of the cast glass technique now used everywhere. Her work is design and form based with an explicit visual language forged in the natural environment and botany of New Zealand. Her work uses glass mass, tone, the certainty of line and form with the varied properties of colour in breathtaking ways.
Traverse is collective testimony to the continuous and broad achievement that distinguishes New Zealand glass and for which it is being openly acknowledged internationally.