A Glass Mini Road trip – Part 2 ‘Whispers’

Originally posted at http://newzealandglass.blogspot.co.nz/2013/11/a-glass-mini-road-trip-part-2-whispers.html on 5 November 2013

Recently I had a chance to combine a non-glass related visit to Auckland with seeing several glass exhibitions and activities. Nothing particularly links these things except my participation, but they did provide some acquisitions for my collection. I have divided them up so they don’t make too big a blog – this is the second of what will probably be a series of three.
Living in the North, I don’t get to attend gallery exhibition openings very often. so I was delighted to realise that my being in Auckland would coincide with the opening of the exhibition Whispers at Masterworks Gallery in Ponsonby.  The exhibition (on until 17 November) comprises five stunning chandeliers made by ‘The Crystal Chain Gang’ from Masterton, being Jim Dennison and Leanne Williams. Sadly, the ‘Gang’ was not present (I guess it’s a long way from Masterton to Ponsonby), but they certainly had a presence.
Jim and Leanne made their first chandelier in 2006. Because they are so labour intensive, the chandeliers are usually made as ‘bespoke’ items, made for a client on commission. Although by their nature chandeliers are made to be highly visible, they are not often able to be seen publicly, and especially not as a group.  Fortunately for us, the current Master of Masterworks Eloise Kitson worked with Jim and Leanne to bring a group of these chandeliers together in an exhibition, five splendid Masterworks. Eloise kindly approved my photographing these so here they are. No photo has all five, but above are four of them.
ImageCrystal Chain Gang Masterworks 23 October 2013 04
Jim and Leanne often reference birds and feathers in their glass art, and these chandeliers are very feathery items indeed.  But while some of the individual components are whole birds and some are individual feathers, as seen at left, very effective use was also made of elements comprising just the spine of the feather, as in the example at  the right.  A wonderful video running in the gallery showed how these were ‘mass-produced’ (something of an overstatement for these individually crafted pieces) by the Chain Gang.
Crystal Chain Gang Masterworks 23 October 2013 07
This is the fifth chandelier, and is probably my personal favourite, though sadly the architecture of both my house and my budget mean I’m not likely to be able to add this to my collection. But I was delighted to have the opportunity to see this wonderful group of works. Thanks, Jim and Leanne (and Eloise).
Two footnotes. Jim and Leanne have a great website which documents their work, both chandeliers and other amazing creations. It’s well worth exploring at http://www.crystalchaingang.co.nz/.
Secondly, for northerners, the Crystal Chain Gang’s current touring exhibition Fancy Fool’s Flight opens at Piece Gallery, Matakana on 23 November until 16 December. I saw this remarkable show when it was at Objectspace in Auckland. It’s amazing, and I’ll certainly be calling in to have a second look while it is in Matakana.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Mahy Mahi

Originally posted at http://newzealandglass.blogspot.co.nz/2014/12/more-mahy-mahi.html on 14 December 2014.

For those of you not conversant in New Zealand Māori, that’s a poor attempt at a pun. Mahi is Māori for work, and I want in this post to explore more of the work of Keith Mahy.  In June 2013, I wrote about Keith’s death (http://newzealandglass.blogspot.co.nz/2013/06/keith-mahy-one-of-pioneers.html), and explored some of his early work on 18 October 2014 (http://newzealandglass.blogspot.co.nz/2014/10/are-these-early-pieces-by-keith-mahy.html). Following that I have had a wonderful opportunity to talk with Keith’s partner Shona, and see the wide range of examples of his work that Shona has. I was able to photograph these, and Shona kindly gave me several pieces. I’ve also come across some pieces held by others, and most recently was able to buy five wine goblets on TradeMe.

Keith was one of the pioneer glass artists in New Zealand, and one with a long career.  This blog presents examples of Keith Mahy’s extensive glass practice, from the time he came to Northland from Christchurch in 1975 to set up his studios, initially at Otonga in 1976, then at Pahi from 1979 and lastly from 1986 in Whāngārei, at Northland Polytechnic and at Burning Issues.

A couple in Whāngārei bought this decanter set and two pair of wine goblets, from the wine shop in Hikurangi in the 1970s. Keith saw a marketing opportunity in selling his work through a wine shop, so customers could purchase both the glasses and their contents.

These similar goblets belong to a friend who bought them from Keith’s studio at Pahi in the 1980s.


This pair of goblets, also bought at the wine shop in Hikurangi, are decorated with applied ‘squiggles’ (technical term!), which links them to Keith’s use of this decoration on other pieces.

I have puzzled over this small stoppered bottle for a decade, and finally the squiggles confirm I can be sure it was made by Keith Mahy.

But I couldn’t make up my mind about this decanter and goblets, which I see now are clearly Keith’s work, so I left them in the second hand shop where I found them. Sadly, it later closed. I wonder where they are now?

This decanter right belongs to a collector in Taranaki, who emailed seeking my opinion. I wasn’t sure, but now I’m quite confident it is by Keith.

The following pieces, from a range of dates, are part of the Mahy Collection held by Shona.

Sadly now cracked, this jug has Keith’s distinctive ‘manaia’ handle form

The exaggeratedly flared rim on this piece was a trademark form of Keith’s.

These light shades were made for the Matakohe church

Shona generously gave me this wine glass
and this one as well

Keith iridised this piece in the glass studio at the Elam School of Fine Art in Auckland, courtesy Mel Simpson

I was delighted recently when a potter from Havelock North listed on TradeMe five wine goblets she had bought from Keith Mahy’s studio at Pahi about 1980. She had also been at the very first conference and workshop of NZ Society of Artists in Glass at Taradale in 1980, and had a try at glass herself, using the portable kiln Garry Nash made, though she has pursued ceramics rather than glass as a career.

On either side of the slightly flattened stem is the small ‘manaia-like’ detail that Keith liked to use in his early work – it’s very helpful in identifying some of his pieces.

That same little device, seen here at the upper attachment of the handle, indicated strongly to me that this separate TradeMe listing was also a piece of Keith’s

As well as the glass itself, some of the treasures Shona gave me access to are Keith’s scrapbooks, which contain a wealth of information. There’s probably the making there of a further Mahy blog – watch this space!

Posted in New Zealand Glass | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

So Who Was GBC?

Originally posted at http://newzealandglass.blogspot.co.nz/2014/09/so-who-was-gbc.html on 22 September 2014

One of the great thrills of hunting for glass on internet auction website TradeMe is when you buy something you don’t know what it is, but you have a hunch, and it turns out to be something quite special.

 Of course, there are also those occasions when the hunch proves to be wrong, and the piece turns out to be nothing, or something of no interest that I can’t identify. Which is why I have a box of motley pieces ready to be donated to the Opp Shop…

But here’s one of the success stories.

A chunky art glass goblet, the trader said, with GBC 1979 engraved on the base. No other clues as to its origin or the identity of the maker. The auction was set for bidding to start at $20, with no reserve price.  I racked my brains to think who GBC might be, but to no avail.  There was a photo, which had hints of NZ glass – Keith Mahy seemed a possibility, but he clearly wasn’t ‘GBC’. The photo wasn’t as clear as this one, which I took once the piece arrived, but it was good enough to encourage me to bid. So I did. There was no interest from anyone else, so my opening bid of $20 was successful.

Garry Nash has always been helpful in my NZ glass research (as indeed have others), and he was involved in the glass scene in 1979, so I thought I’d send him an email to ask what he thought.  A few days later I happened to be in Auckland so I called in to Nash Glass to see if Garry had any thoughts about it.  Talking about it with Garry Nash and his colleague Claire Bell, Claire said ‘that could be a J, what is John Croucher’s middle name?’ Garry said at once ‘Barry, John Barry Croucher’.

Which made for a really exciting possibility.  Once the piece arrived and I could handle it, I could confirm that it indeeed it had JBC 1979 on the base, as you can see in the photo below.

I sent the photos off to John Croucher, who replied, saying:

‘Yep you have a very early Croucher. We had just started blowing full time then. Amazing that people bought enough of that stuff that we could keep on doing it!’

So I am thrilled to be able to add this to my collection. I have several early Crouchers, but this is one of the earliest, and certainly the earliest signed one. The glass is very similar to that used in the decanter I have blogged about before, that was bought at Sunbeam in 1979 but is not signed.  (See ‘An Early Piece of Sunbeam Glass?’ from May 2007). John was unable to be certain which of the early Sunbeams had made the decanter, identifying Danny Keighly, Ken Cooke and himself as possibilities, though he didn’t think he had made it.  But with the signature, there can be no doubt who made this goblet.

Just to round out the story, here are two other early pieces signed by John that I have bought on TradeMe, though I paid quite bit more than $20, since the vendors knew what they were.


The vase at left is signed ‘J Croucher 1982’ and the ‘Hot Lips’ sculpture at right is signed ‘J Croucher 83’.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No More Running Amok

Originally posted at http://newzealandglass.blogspot.co.nz/2014/08/no-more-running-amok.html on 15 August 2014

Ranamok Glass Awards Logo

In 1994, Australian glass visionary Maureen Cahill and coal industry executive Andy Plummer teamed up to establish the (then) Resource Finance Corporation or RFC Glass Prize. It involved an annual monetary prize for a work of glass made by an artist in Australia or New Zealand, with the winning piece being acquired for the Ranamok (formerly RFC) Collection. RFC morphed into Whitehaven Coal, Eureka Corporation and Excel Corporation, and the prize morphed in the Ranamok Prize.

The first exhibition was held at the Earth Exchange Museum in Sydney in 1995 and now, in 2014, the 20th Exhibition, being held at the Canberra Glassworks before travelling to Sydney and Brisbane, has been announced to be the last. The Ranamok collection of works by the winners will be donated to the Australian National Gallery in Canberra, which will make it accessible on an ongoing basis.

Photo: Kathryn Wightman

The Ranamok Prize has provided an opportunity for a veritable Who’s Who of Australian and New Zealand glass artists to show their skills and compete for the prize. Some of the entrants have been quite new to glass, keen to see how their work stands up in that environment, while Ranamok has also attracted entries from some of the leading glass artists of both countries.

The 2014 Ranamok Prize has been awarded to Kathryn Wightman, who teaches at the Glass School in Whanganui. Dr Wightman’s 2011 PhD from the University of Sunderland explored the integration of glassmaking and printmaking, with the development of a number of creative glassmaking processes inspired by printmaking processes, especially related to textiles. Warmest congratulations, Kathryn.

Photo: Kathryn Wightman Facebook

Kathryn’s prize-winning work is a truly remarkable three metre long carpet runner in glass. Kathryn screen-printed coloured glass powders to create a textured carpet pattern. Then, as photos on her Facebook page show, she walked barefoot along the carpet, leaving footprints in the ‘sand’ of the glass colours. The ‘carpet’ was then fused in the kiln to create the resulting glass masterpiece.

Photo: Kathryn Wightman Facebook

The only New Zealand finalist in the first RFC Prize in 1995 was Kirsten Sach of Glen Eden. In 1992 Kirsten was a student at Carrington Polytechnic, and I was pleased to buy this small cast glass ‘Lotus Cup’  from an exhibition at ‘The Pumphouse’ in Takapuna that year. Kirsten’s Ranamok entry in 1995 was a much more developed work  – you can see it on the very fine and profusely illustrated Ranamok website http://www.ranamok.com, which features the work of all the Finalists and the Prize winners.


New Zealand winners at Ranamok have been Emma Camden (1999), David Murray (2003) Evelyn Dunstan (2007), Lisa Walsh (2009), Sue Hawker (2010) and now Kathryn Wightman.

I’m delighted that my own collection includes works by all of these except Lisa (must do something about that, Lisa!) even if they are not always quite as grand as the winning pieces. New Zealand Ranamok finalists represented in my collection include Ruth Allen, Claudia Borella, Lee Brogan, Dominic Burrell, Christine Cathie, Mike Crawford, Keith Grinter, Robyn Irwin, Nicole Lucas, Keely McGlynn, Lyndsay Patterson, Lou Pendergrast-Matheson, Rachel Ravenscroft, Carmen Simmonds, Greg Smith, Hoana Stachl.  I even have works by Australian finalists Ben Edols and Michael Larwood in my small non-NZ collection. There have been other NZ finalists, of course, but not represented in my collection – I guess I’ve just developed a shopping list!


But I conclude by showing my very own Wightman. You could say I was an ‘early adopter’ of Kathryn’s work in New Zealand. She arrived to take up a position as tutor at the Glass School in Whanganui in May of 2012, and gave a presentation at the NZSAG conference Generate in Whanganui in October 2012, talking about her work printing and creating ‘textiles’ in glass. I found this fascinating, and struggled to understand just how she did it (I still do, rather). In the associated exhibition of work for sale, Kathryn showed three platters which were some of the last she had made in Sunderland before coming out to New Zealand; I was delighted to be able to buy one of those.


Posted in New Zealand Glass, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Elizabeth McClure: an important influence and a wonderful artist

Originally posted at http://newzealandglass.blogspot.co.nz/2014/05/elizabeth-mcclure-important-influence.html on 2 May 2014

 In my last post about Sue Treanor, I mentioned Elizabeth McClure as Lecturer in Glass at Carrington Polytechnic, UNITEC in the 1990s. Elizabeth is someone whose role in New Zealand glass is perhaps less well known. To my shame I recall giving a talk about glass in the 1980s in New Zealand without mentioning her, when she was in the audience! She was very gracious about it, and we subsequently had a good interview, in the course of which I learned a lot.

I first saw Elizabeth’s work in March 1994, at an exhibition Little Jewels organised in the James Cook Hotel in Wellington by the regrettably short-lived Arts Marketing Board of Aotearoa (AMBA). I purchased this exquisite scent bottle there. It’s small and delicate, only 5.2 cm in diameter, and decorated in enamels.  It was made in September 1993 – Elizabeth is meticulous in marking her work detail. The bottle had originally been shown in Making Marks the first solo exhibition of her work after her return to New Zealand, held at the also short-lived Glass Gallery in Ponsonby. The exhibition title aptly references the coloured markings on the pieces.

In her review of the exhibition, which I didn’t get to see, New Zealand Herald writer Helen Schamroth noted the work consisted of two groups, large generously proportioned bowls and tiny perfume bottles. Fortunately for me, one of the tiny perfume bottles didn’t sell in Auckland, and so formed part of Little Jewels in Wellington.

Elizabeth had taken up appointment in September 1993 at Carrington as Lecturer in Glass. What I didn’t realise then, and indeed not until a decade later, was that this was her second period in New Zealand.

Elizabeth McClure was born in Lanark, Scotland, and qualified in Glass Design at Edinburgh College of Art. She worked for a number of UK glassmakers, ranging from Wedgwood Glass to Michael Harris’s Isle of Wight Glass, and also taught glass courses in Sunderland, Dublin and Tokyo. In 1985-6 she taught and worked as a designer of glass in Japan.

During this period Elizabeth had a number of contacts with New Zealand and New Zealanders, meeting Kiwis in the UK and, through NZSAG, corresponding with several NZ glass artists including Ann Robinson. Elizabeth’s sister had come to live in Wellington, and in December 1986 Elizabeth came to visit her. When she arrived, there was a Sunbeam glass show at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt.  She was impressed by the scale and the competency of the work, and renewed her contact with Ann Robinson.  She went to Auckland, where John Croucher and Ann met her and showed her the Sunbeam premises, which she loved it.   Ann was especially pleased to meet another woman glass blower, in what was largely a man’s field in New Zealand at the time.

A  number of New Zealand polytechnics had set up craft and design courses.  Only Whanganui had glass specifically, but if there was a kiln, then work with glass was feasible.  Elizabeth had trained and worked in all sorts of glass media, and was able to turn her hand to almost anything.  The Crafts Council sponsored her as a visiting glass artist.  They paid her fare to Invercargill where she started.  Southland paid for her to get to Dunedin, who paid for her to get to Nelson, and so on.  From Nelson she went to Christchurch, Wellington (which didn’t have a design school), Whanganui, Hawkes Bay, Hamilton, Auckland for a NZSAG workshop, and to Northland, though that one fell through.  Elizabeth then based herself in Auckland, using the facilities at Sunbeam, including being able to blow some big pieces – until then her work had been mostly small, because she had access only to small facilities.

Klaus Moje at the Canberra School of Glass wanted to reduce his teaching hours, and Elizabeth was invited to go to Canberra, initially for three months, after which she returned to New Zealand. Klaus asked her back because another staffer left, and what was initially three months turned into a year, then two and then three. Elizabeth maintained her New Zealand connections – both Ann Robinson and John Croucher went over to teach courses at ANU, as did Rena Jarosewitsch (for whom see my 2009 blog New Zealand Glass: Rena Jarosewitsch Continues to Delight.)

Then in 1993 Elizabeth came back to New Zealand, to be involved in the setting up of the glass course at Carrington, as Lecturer in Glass. For reasons too complex to describe here, things didn’t work out and she left Carrington at the beginning of 1995, but in that time she taught and influenced quite a number of New Zealand’s present day glass artists. Since then, she has followed a New Zealand-based but wide-ranging career as glass artist and as teacher of glass.

In 1997, Elizabeth McClure was awarded a three month Fellowship at the Creative Glass Centre in New Jersey. While there, she  blew about 150 ‘blanks’, with a view to cold working these when she returned to New Zealand. The last 40 or so of those pieces formed the wonderful solo exhibition ‘Seasons of Change’ at the Dowse Art Museum that resulted from her receiving the inaugural Thomas Foundation Glass Award in 2001. I was delighted to purchase the piece above at that exhibition. It’s 18cm wide.Australian curator Grace Cochrane write a most insightful essay about Elizabeth’s work and career, which was published to celebrate the Thomas Foundation Glass Award.The third piece of Elizabeth’s glass in my collection was made in February 2003.  ‘Marui sculpture #3’ shows Elizabeth’s ongoing sensitivity to the Japanese aesthetic, as well as her amazing patience in the cold work treatment she frequently gives her surfaces. Perhaps appropriately, it was part of an exhibition at Masterworks‘ waterfront gallery timed to coincide with the America’s Cup races in 2003, entitled Showing Off. It is 5.5cm in diameter.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pâte de Verre by Sue Treanor and Sue Hawker

Originally posted at http://newzealandglass.blogspot.co.nz/2014/04/pate-de-verre-by-sue-treanor-and-sue.html on 21 April 2013

I recently bought this piece of pâte de verre glass on TradeMe. It was made by Sue Treanor, probably towards the end of the 1990s. Sue exhibited at an exhibition I remember seeing in Parliament in Wellington in 1999, organised by the NZ Society of Artists in Glass as a promotional vehicle, and she also had a show at Avid in Wellington in August 1999.

Sue Treanor enrolled for a diploma in glass at UNITEC in 1994, amongst a group of students who became quite  distinguished glass artists. In August 1996 there was an exhibition entitled ‘Maiden glass: UNITEC girlz come out’ at the Glass Arts Gallery in Ponsonby, a regrettably short lived gallery with quite close links to the UNITEC campus at Carrington. As well as Sue Treanor, those exhibiting were Lou Pendergrast, Nicole Lucas, Megan Tidmarsh, Kellee Cook, and Layla Walter.
In 1999, Sue Treanor had a piece selected for exhibition at ‘International Expo 2’ held in Tampa, Florida by the prestigious Glass Art Society of USA. (Former Aussie,  now Whanganui artist, Claudia Borella was also included in that exhibition). I have only a poor image of that piece, from an online catalogue, but I want to include it here because it was entitled ‘For Marea’, a tribute to Maori glass artist Marea Timoko, who has been a significant influence on several New Zealand artists in pâte de verre (and other glass forms). Marea was  brought in to give some specialist workshops by Elizabeth McClure, then was Lecturer in Glass at UNITEC.
It’s probably time to explain, to the best of my ability as a non-practitioner, what pâte de verre is. Literally ‘glass paste’ in French, pâte de verre involves making a paste of glass that is applied to the surface of a mold, then fired at a relatively low temperature – ‘warm’ glass. The advantage is that this allows precise placement of particular glass colors in the mold, unlike other methods of filling the mold, where some shifting of glass from where it has been placed prior to firing can take place.  te de verre dates back to the ancient Egyptians, but it was revived by a group of French artists in the late nineteenth century who provided the modern name for this technique. (For the curious, la pâte is paste, while le pâté is what you make from chicken liver and other things).
Sadly Sue Treanor died in March 2012, so I have not been able to talk with her about her work. However, there is another Sue who makes pâte de verre who is very much alive, and living quite close to me in Northland.
Born in Christchurch, Sue Hawker had an international career in journalism and business, but has now settled in Kerikeri (who can blame her for that?) and follows her passion for glass and ceramics. Beginning in 2004, she took applied arts papers at Northland Polytech, and like Sue Treanor was one of a group  of students who have become established artists. She also had as a tutor the same Marea Timoko who influenced Sue Treanor.
Sue Hawker has won a number of awards for her glass, most notably being the winner of the prestigious trans-Tasman Ranamok Glass Prize in 2010 – she was also a Ranamok Finalist in 2009, 2011 and 2012. This remarkable
Ranamok winning piece of p
âte de verre ‘Too Much is Never Enough’ is half a metre high, compared with the rather more modest size of Sue Treanor’s piece, which is 13cm high.
Fortunately for me, Sue Hawker makes smaller works, too, and I am delighted to have a piece of her pâte de verre in my collection, which she made in 2012. It is 11 cm high.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nic Robb an Early Student in Glass

Originally posted at http://newzealandglass.blogspot.co.nz/2013/12/nic-robb-early-student-in-glass.html  on 2 December 2013

There have been a lot of students of glass in New Zealand since the first tertiary course was established in Whanganui in 1989. While some have gone on to make sustainable careers as professional glass artists, many others stop their glass-making once they finish their studies, or after a few years in the ‘real world’.  A collector of glass like me is always delighted to buy a piece by an ’emerging artist’ since that person may go on to a significant career. I have a number of pieces in my collection which are early examples by some of today’s ‘names’ in glass – perhaps that might be the subject for a future blog. But equally, I also have pieces that are one of only a few made by a particular person, who did not carry on in glass. I treasure those as well.

Robb 1989 01

I first came across the name Nic (for Nicola) Robb in June 2006 when I bought a piece on TradeMe signed ‘Nic Robb Feb 89’. Just over 8cm high, it’s hardly the greatest piece of glass ever made, though a competent piece for a beginner, with its iridised light brown body and the brown spiral that rises from the base.  Because I knew Tony Kuepfer was teaching glass in Whanganui in 1989, I asked him if he recalled the maker. Tony, who is ever helpful in responding to my many enquiries of him, responded saying:

“Nic Robb was in the first group of students for the Certificate in Craft Design Programme at the old Wanganui Regional Community College (UCOL). That was about the time I was getting involved with them and before they had any studio.  They sent their glass majors up [to Tony’s studio at Inglewood] to get a taste of glass. Nic was in the first graduating class late 80s.

” Her piece is a nice bit of history for your collection perhaps…”Robb 1989 TradeMe 94482712

In 2007, another piece of Nic’s was offered on Trademe, but I was not successful in acquiring it – the photo at right from the TradeMe site is my only record of it.  22cm in diameter, it was also signed ‘Nic Robb Feb 89’.

In February 2010, I was successful in bidding for another piece, this time signed ‘Nic Robb May 89’. It’s 10cm high.  One might guess the first two were made at the beginning of the academic year, and this one in the May holidays after the first term.

Robb 1989 02None of these pieces is more than a competent student product, and looking at them alone one might understand why Nicola didn’t continue as a glass artist. So imagine my surprise and delight to see another piece listed on TradeMe in November 2013.

This is a much more accomplished piece, simple yet elegant in form and very attractive in its use of two layers of coloured chip. The pontil has come away cleanly, and there are no tool marks.  It is signed ‘N.Robb Mar 89’, so presumably made during term time – Easter perhaps? It’s 13cm high.

Robb 1989 03

Nic apparently didn’t continue her career in glass – I’ve not seen any pieces later than 1989. But she did pursue a career in arts administration, serving as PA to Dowse Art Museum Director Tim Walker in Lower Hutt from 1998 to 2003. I have not been successful in my efforts to contact Nic, though I understand she is probably still based in Wellington.

 As Tony Kuepfer indicated, Nic Robb was part of the first intake of students in glass at the Wanganui Regional Community College, which had been established in 1984. The glass course began in 1989, leading Tony Kuepfer away from his Inglewood studio, to move eventually to take up full-time teaching at Whanganui. The College became Wanganui Regional Polytechnic during the reorganisation of Polytechnic education in the 1990s, before becoming part of the Universal College of Learning (UCOL) in 2002. In 2007 UCOL and the Wanganui District Council entered into a partnership agreement to secure the future of the school, and in 2008, the District Council established a Private Training Establishment, the Wanganui Educational Institute, which now manages the operational activities of the Glass School facility. But that of course was long after Nic Robb had left.

Posted in New Zealand Glass, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Glass Mini Road trip – Part 3 Whāngārei

Originally posted at http://newzealandglass.blogspot.co.nz/2013/11/a-glass-mini-road-trip-part-3-whangarei.html  on 11 November 2013

Recently I had a chance to combine a non-glass related visit to Auckland with seeing several glass exhibitions and activities. Nothing particularly links these things except my participation, but they did provide some acquisitions for my collection. I have divided them up so they don’t make too big a blog – this is the third of the series of three.
On my way back north, I called in (as I frequently do) at Burning Issues in Whāngārei. I was keen to see the new gaffer, Keith Grinter, who has taken over following the death of Keith Mahy (see my blog of 17 June 2013).  On his website http://www.keithgrinter.com/, Keith describes his excitement over his venture:
‘On 16th September 2013 I started work in my own glass blowing studio in Whangarei. I had been discussing moving to Whangarei and working with Keith Mahy when he died unexpectedly. A few weeks later I was offered the opportunity of purchasing the studio by Shona Firman. With the help of Garry Nash I started the furnace on Tuesday and spent the next two days warming it up slowly until it was ready to add batch to make glass. During the week I made my first glass batch from the raw chemicals following Keith Mahy’s old recipe. On Saturday 21st September I spent from 8am to 3.30 blowing glass in my own studio. Thanks to Shona Firman and Garry Nash for their kind support.’
Keith Grinter’s art practice until now has had a painterly emphasis; he is a painter both on canvas and on glass.  Whilst I am sure that will continue, he has recognised the need to vary what he does, and he is currently working to develop his glass blowing skills. Not that he is any slouch; at left is a piece in my collection that was exhibited at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington in November 2007.
But being totally responsible for a studio is quite a different matter, and Keith’s current production is much more exploratory. I was delighted to purchase one of his ‘trial’ pieces, to document this new phase of his work. Getting rid of the bubbles is a current challenge.
Another issue is the blue tinge in what is batched as clear glass. Rebecca Heap is continuing to blow her work in Whāngārei, as she was doing when Keith Mahy was there, and it was great to find she was there too when I visited.

Rebecca had been working with Keith Mahy on a new furnace, and Keith had made its first batch just before he died.  With help from Garry Nash, Rebecca got that first melt going, and blew some pieces from it, one of which she very kindly gave me.
Rebecca said ”Keith and I shared an interest in hand blown industrial glass so it seemed fitting to use an old factory mould to make these little cups out of the last batch he melted. They look especially nice when used as votives as the cold graphite thumb prints make the candle light dance. The glass is blue because it was the first melt in a new furnace and we bought the pot second hand from Gaffer Glass where it had last been used for cobalt colour bars”.
The reference to industrial glass relates to Keith Mahy’s work at Crown Crystal Glass, and Rebecca’s experience working in Sweden at Pukeberg and Orrefors between 2006 and 2011, after she graduated from Whanganui.
I’m delighted that my ‘local’ glass studio continues, under new management, and I’ll certainly be calling in to see Keith Grinter, and Rebecca Heap on her working days there, as I pass through Whāngārei.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment