SA Glass Now!
Current events shaping the future of creative glass practice in South Africa.
Since September glass has come to the forefront of creative discussion here in Pretoria during the Cool Capital biennale. Several shows with glass as the main theme have shown us (the makers) and the public at large that this beautiful light-conducting material is not merely a vessel or windscreen but a medium for artistic expression too.
The first show, titled, Glass as Conveyor of Image opened at the Pretoria Art Museum curated by Retief van Wyk. This interesting show expands the boundaries of the glass-making fraternity by including works of acclaimed artists in their own right such as Diane Victor and Berco Wilsenach. Other participating artists are Retief van Wyk, Iaan Bekker and Liesl Roos.
That same week, on the 23rd of September saw the opening of Out of the Fire, Into the Light at the Association of Arts, Pretoria. This seminal exhibition brought artists together from all around South Africa. Since 2005 we have not seen nor been able to assess the current condition of SA glass when several exhibitions were held in Cape Town and Worcester organised by the South African Glass Art Society.
SAGAS sadly does not exist any more but many of the artists and several new voices are fervently defining the future in a South African context. The diversity of the works show innovation and ingenuity, deep thought and contemplation and surely breaking the boundaries of that stigma, utilitarianism and craftiness which is a common dilemma glass has always been associated with.
Should one define the Glass Hotspots within SA then a map emerges from this show. Herewith an outline of areas and the artists represented in the exhibition:
Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth)
Guido van Bessouw
Martli Jansen van Rensburg
Retief van Wyk
Marileen van Wyk
Apart from the exhibition at the Association of Arts, the curators, Dr. Ingram Anderson and Lothar Böttcher, organised several events to compliment and extend the conversation around creative glass. Public talks and discussions were added to the program of events as well as walkabouts and personal engagement with interested public.
The show was received with overwhelming positive feedback. New perceptions on the possibilities glass has to offer have been gained with many new avenues opening for the future of glass here, way down south.
Blow Your Sculpture then came to town. This project has been in the making since the first Cool Capital biennale in 2014 when it was staged initially. This year we started blowing or sculptures in April already and lighting was added to the curatorial mix.
The first show was an open air exhibition set up at the Pretoria Botanical Gardens. Blow Your Sculpture is currently exhibited in the Pretoria Art Museum till the end of 2016 with a social guest, Emil Kováč, a Czech master glassblower.
Maxi Pretorius invited Emil to come visit and offer workshops, complimenting this glass odyssey. Smelt Glass Studio and Wynand Troskie’s studio are some of the facilities graciously accommodating enthusiasts, artists and designers to literally work hand in hand with this talented blower, realising individual and sometimes crazy designs in blown glass.
There’ll be more interesting things coming from way down South… Watch this space!!
Update, May 2018!!
Back to the Future – Contemporary glass inspired by the past will open at the Association of Arts, Pretoria in September 2018. This show focuses on contemporary glass artists living and working in Pretoria and surrounds.