Stourbridge 27 – 31 May
The 2015 British Glass Biennale
The UK’s major exhibition of contemporary glass
The Glass Festival and Biennale is a well kept secret amongst the Glass Sellers Livery. Every two years a number of Glass Sellers make the pilgrimage to the Ruskin Glass Centre in Stourbridge to attend the event. Whilst the Glass Sellers are few in number, they all obviously find it worthwhile as the same faces come again and again.
The Company presents four Art and Craft prizes at the Biennale. The winner of the main award for established artists receives £5,000 and the runner-up £1,000. The student awards are £1,000 for the winner and £500 for the runner up.
On the morning of 27th May the Master, Gwen Rhys, together with the Chairman of the Charity Trustees, John Whiteman; Richard Katz, Chairman of the Glass Committee and Liverymen Leigh Baildham and Barbara Beadman had the unenviable task of picking the winners from the large collection of high quality, contemporary glass on display. The team were helped by Rennie Braham who provided valuable technical advice.
After spending the morning discussing the pieces in great detail, by mid-afternoon the decision had been made and the team sworn to secrecy as the results would only be made public at the private viewing that evening.
The Master and party then left the Ruskin Glass Centre to present the prizes in the Celebrity Doodle Competition at Broadfield House Museum.
Children entered a competition to draw doodles that will then be interpreted and made into glass objects. The Master presented prizes to the winners of each of the 3 age groups. More doodles have been drawn by a number of celebrities (including the Master Glass Seller). These too will be turned into glass objects and auctioned later in the year for Broadfield House Museum.
Finally a delicious (and very welcome) tea was provided by the Friends of Broadfield House. This left just enough time to return to the hotel and freshen up before going back to the Ruskin Arts Centre for the private view and Awards Ceremony.
The evening ceremony was accompanied by wine and canapés before the Master took the stage to announce this year’s winners.
Liveryman Mark Holford presented a prize for Best in Show and Liveryman Peter Layton from London Glass Blowing presented the Award for Emerging Talent.
Following the ceremony and always eager to maintain the traditions of the Livery, the Master, some of the Livery and guests repaired to a local restaurant to partake of sustenance.
The Glass Sellers’ Engravers Prize
This prize is awarded to a member of the Guild of Glass Engravers who is exhibiting for the first time at the International Exhibition of Contemporary Engraved Glass.
On Wednesday 27th May the Master, Gwen Rhys, assisted by the Renter Warden, Peter Rawlinson and Freeman David Wilkinson judged the competition. The winning piece was the very interesting engraving “In Perfect Harmony” by Guergana Sabkova using a mixture of sand blasting and flexible drive techniques.
The Master returned on the Saturday evening to present the prize to Guergana.
Wish you were here postcards
The next day many of the Livery returned to the Ruskin Glass Centre to look at the exhibition of glass postcards on the theme “Wish you were here” sponsored by our Liveryman, Mark Holford.
Postcards have a long and fascinating history. This deceptively simple form of communication is more than just words and pictures. It delivers a glimpse of another life, a renewed friendship, a shared joke with a specially chosen image that all say so much with so little.
The Contemporary Glass Society challenged its members to send in a glass postcard.
The Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers’ Lecture – Colin Reid
After looking at the postcards the Master, Renter Warden and some of the Livery crossed the courtyard to listen to a fascinating lecture from Colin Reid. He was introduced by Liveryman Barbara Beadman as the winner of the 2006 and 2012 Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers’ Art and Craft Award.
He talked about the benefits of winning the award and illustrated it with comments and images from other past winners.
Comments on the benefits of the award and what it meant for them included:
- Used money to set up own studio
- Got attention from galleries
- Allowed time for research
- Gave time to plan new body of work
- Attending master classes
- Allowed artist to keep some pieces
- Broke through glass ceiling!
- Allowed to triple prices
- Better exposure in press
- Could purchase material for research
- Enabled pieces to be donated to museums
And there was always “the simple joy of winning a prize”.
Colin also talked about his and others work and gave an insight into some interesting techniques. He used sardines in the mould for a font he sculptured that is now in the V&A Museum. June Kingsbury, the student winner in 2006 used road kill as a mould.
Words: Renter Warden, Peter Rawlinson