South African Art Scene – Perspectives on Glass and CGTN interview

A while back China Global Television Network (CGTN) came to my studio conducting an interview on my work and the South African glass art scene.

You can watch my interview on CGTN here: South Africa Art Scene: Pretoria artist creates one-off sculptures by manipulating light

Reading the excerpt below made me think of how things were then and where we are now:

“South Africa has got a very small glass community if you compare it to Europe and the USA. I think China has got a growing appreciation for it with the Shanghai Museum of Glass that opened a few years back. But all in all, I think the future has a lot of possibilities for the handmade glass industry, so we have to work hard and I think the results will show.”

So much has changed since then!

The community of glass artists, enthusiasts and collectors might be small here, on the southern tip of Africa, but we are brimming with energy and enthusiasm.

Shirley Cloete, Gary Thompson and David Reade are considered the pioneers of South African studio glass. Sadly Shirley and Gary have passed away. David is still blowing glass with his expert team in Worcester today!

The internationally renowned Ngwenya Glass produces recycled glass products. For over thirty years this this glass company in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) has been at the forefront of building a circular glass economy! They have also been a node-point for international glass art and design workshops.

Sibusiso Mhlanga and Lothar Böttcher at Ngwenya Glass, Eswatini

The only academic glass art and design program is at the Tshwane University of Technology. This is where the glass bug bit me. In 1995 I assisted David Reade with the construction of TUT’s first furnace! TUT is nurturing new generations of glass artists and artisans.

Smelt Glass Studio, run by Martli Jansen van Rensburg and Mike Hyam, is a public studio. They offer internships and short courses as well as producing work for corporate and private clients. I have been working with them since they started in Melville, Johannesburg.
Smelt is moving to Pretoria – Maybe Pretoria is becoming the glass capital of South africa! 🙂

Smelt Glass Studio

Down in Cape Town is the Cape Glass Studio, run by Nelius Britz. Several artist working with glass are part of this studio. The Cape Glass Studio has many local and international project behind its name.
Adjoining the studio is the Edge Glass Gallery. It is the only gallery dedicated to contemporary glass in sub-saharan Africa!

Opening night at the Edge Glass Gallery, Cape Town

Apart from the names and institutions mentioned above many more studios and artist offer unique glass art and products in South Africa offering a broad spectrum of unique works.

In 2016 the Association of Arts showcased a national exhibition of contemporary glass art – Out of the Fire, Into the Light

I would love to hear your thoughts on the future of contemporary glass as art and craft medium in South Africa!

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