Transparent Things - Expressions in Glass
GLASS is an ancient and versatile medium. Its unique optical and physical qualities have inspired artists over the centuries. As the contemporary international Studio Glass movement reveals, artists today respond to the medium with the same passion and imagination as the artists and artisans of the third millennium BC.
Transparent Things - Expressions in Glass illustrates various responses by visual artists to the defining characteristic of glass: its transparency. The exhibition draws upon the extensive glass collections of the National Gallery of Australia and the Wagga Wagga Regional Art Gallery.
Until the modern era, glass was not a commonplace substance. Indeed, for much of its history glass was a rare, costly and prized commodity. In antiquity, for example, glass was made to resemble coloured gemstones and was prized equally with them.
Later, in Renaissance Venice, master craftsmen perfected a thin and fragile decorative glass called cristallo that was the envy of collectors throughout Europe and in the East. Eighteenth-century glassmakers in England further refined the manufacturing process to make glass of unrivalled clarity and refractive brilliance.
Fine vessels or objects of glass can evoke a sense of wonder and curiosity prompted by the fragility of the medium, its watery transparency and the spectacular and fiery process of its manufacture.
The title of this exhibition is taken from Vladimir Nabokov's novella 'Transparent Things'. The story suggests that a sense of the past 'shines through' transparent things, a notion reminiscent of certain ancient and enduring beliefs in glass as a magical or enhanced substance.
Popular literature and folklore allude to fabulous glass people or objects: coffins of glass, temples of glass, unbreakable goblets of glass, mountains of glass and, most familiar of all, slippers of glass, showing our fascination with the medium.
Wagga Wagga Regional Art Gallery
Broken Hill City Gallery
Geelong Art Gallery
Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale