• Sun. Jul 3rd, 2022

Abigail Reynolds has turned a Cornish seaside into stunning glass sculptures

Read Time:5 Minute, 12 Second

Glass may be a straightforward materials to take as a right. In spite of everything, most of us normally look by means of it to understand what’s on the opposite facet. However for visible artist Abigail Reynolds, glass has distinctive properties which tie into her broader working practices. And after studying extra about how glass is made, she determined to show a close-by Cornish seaside into glass produced from supplies corresponding to sand and kelp.

Having determined to make glass out of a Cornish seaside in 2019, Abigail launched into a course of which took an entire summer season to finish. The outcomes have been price it, although, together with her collection of fantastically clear glass roundels lately being displayed in an exhibition known as Flux, together with a video and ebook detailing her inventive course of.

Talking to Artistic Growth, Abigail reveals that it was whereas visiting the Isles of Scilly and noticing the shallow granite pits by the shoreline that she got here throughout conventional glass-making strategies. It turned out these have been actually ‘kelp pits’, and this burnt seaweed ash was despatched to Bristol to be used within the glass business.

“Actually, it is not the seaweed that turns into glass; it is the seaside sand – however the one factor required to carry the melting level of sand down in order that it might change into glass is seaweed,” Abigail explains. “I realized that kelp was used as a flux in glass-making and was the one different ingredient with the sand. I realised {that a} single seaside may, subsequently, probably, change into glass. And I simply needed to attempt to do it.”

Nevertheless, as soon as she bought right down to it, Abigail initially had doubts. “It was gradual, and I did not suppose it will work, so my yr of experiment felt quite whimsical on the time,” she says. “I documented what I did with my cellphone, partly simply to maintain monitor of what I did, what the situations and dates have been and so forth in order that I may make modifications when issues did not work.”

This footage ultimately turned an accompanying brief movie, which used Abigail’s accompanying narration to elucidate the glass-making course of. The footage was proven on the Flux exhibition at Kestle Barton, together with a photograph ebook. Cut up into 4 brief chapters, titled ‘Sand’, ‘Seaweed’, ‘Ash’ and ‘Glass’, this limited-run ebook is accessible from Abigail’s website. “They are often purchased from my web site very cheaply as a result of I would like it to be accessible,” she provides. “For me, the method of creating the glass is extra fascinating when it is clear (sorry, that is a foul pun). The glass is extra astonishing when you know the way it was made, not much less.”

These trying to attempt glass-making after seeing Abigail’s sculptures ought to pay attention to its challenges. “It is simply so labour intensive; it is very gradual and soiled work,” she says. “There have been no shortcuts to drying out the kelp, for instance. Even burning it’s gradual. I used an agricultural feed grinder to show it to powder – and I used to be very glad to discover a potter with one. I suppose it might be mechanised, however the economics and the size at which we want glass means it isn’t viable.”

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It appears like this problem is a part of the enchantment, although. “It felt good to do every thing from first principals, to have my hand on each kelp frond, each cup of sieved sand. Previously, glass was all the time made with plant ash, which was fairly valuable till pretty lately, however now we would like plenty of quick glass. The glass I make is extra attentive to work with than the present glass. It stays workable at a decrease temperature. I’m nonetheless astonished by it.”

This astonishment extends from Abigail’s appreciation of glass as a cloth to her connection together with her native Cornish surroundings. “Working with something – whether or not phrases or wooden – brings you into a detailed relationship of correctly listening and understanding,” she says. “So the method introduced me to a way more nuanced and bodily understanding of this panorama and a a lot clearer understanding of glass, a cloth I typically use in my sculptures. Even had I not succeeded at making glass from the seaweed and sand, I’d nonetheless really feel a lot nearer to the panorama now.

“Then, as a result of (to my shock) the seaside did change into glass, I can share my renewed closeness to the panorama by exhibiting the glass in a fundamental type of roundels or sheets you can look by means of, utilizing the seaside as a lens. It is like a immediate to attempt to look from a special perspective, a much less human-centred view.”

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Talking of why she likes to work with glass, Abigail explains that it “has a type of magic about it. Glass is neither a fluid nor a strong – it’s plural by nature.” It permits for lots of freedom, which makes her conscious of sunshine in a particular manner. “It refracts mild passing by means of it, and within the case of textured glass, that is very stunning. Working with glass is for me all the time working with mild.”

She provides that one other basis of her work is collage, which dovetails properly into glass’s distinctive properties. “One factor I get pleasure from about window glass – simply clear glass – is that it marks a degree between what’s inside and out of doors and works as a collage bringing these items collectively.

“The glass is clear, so that you see past it, to things at completely different distances to the glass, which flattens them into the one airplane of the glass like an image. However the floor of glass is so polished that it concurrently displays. Trying into glass, you possibly can normally see your self and your environment and what’s past the glass. All these distances are collapsed into one airplane. For me, this is sort of a metaphor for the way in which we expertise the world.”

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