Thursday, 31 December 2009

Holywell Glass Studio, St Alkmunds

Me in hundreds of jumpers because it's freezing standing outside Holywell Glass Studio where I worked on a placement.

Holywell Glass is a studio in the rather scenic Cathedral city of Wells in the South of England. It does not do any design work of it’s own but concentrates on restoration, a field I knew nothing about. It is run by Steve Clare and had a workforce of eight not including myself, although all of them were never there at once. It was a very nice studio and the staff were all very friendly and welcoming. My experience was a positive one. I saw Steve only briefly while I was there and was introduced to the studio and told what to do for the first few weeks by a very nice woman Emma Russell who hadn’t worked there for very long but had done a degree at Swansea and had a lot of technical expertise certainly in comparison to myself.

I was in Wells for a relatively long placement lasting two months. I worked on five different projects while I was there. St Alkmunds, Grisaille panel, Compton Pauncefoot panel, tiffany style lamps and Arundel window. From September 29th when I started until the 11th of November I only got to work on one project, St Alkmunds, because that was the big commission and the whole studio was only really concentrating on that. From the 11th St Alkmunds was reinstalled, so I got to observe some of the other work that had been put on hold in the studio. From the 11th till the 20th, my last day, I worked on four different projects. I enjoyed the diversity of their nature and feel this meant I learnt a lot from them.

St Alkmunds is a church in Shrewsbury near Birmingham. The East window of this church was designed by Francis Eginton (b1737 – d1805) in 1795. It bore the image of the Virgin Mary surrounded by clouds with a bible, a crown, a goblet and other religious illusions. It was many different shades of brown with reds, purples and yellows but was still quite a dark window. It is quite an unusual piece because Eginton had tried to make it look like an oil painting, something that was popular at the time, and so it had no leading at all. It was held together by a metal structure and over time this structure had warped. The joints holding it together were being pulled in and this broke the glass. Some of the glass was really very badly broken. Only one panel from the bottom two rows of glass survived the weight of the rest pushing down upon it and could be salvaged. Although some of the panels had been mended and some were replaced the whole window had never been taken out before. Ministers of the church had painted cold colour quite badly onto the glass at different times and some of the broken panels had been plated to keep them together. No-one was sure exactly when this had happened but it was a long time ago.

I arrived after the glass had come to the studio although barely any restoration had been done so I came early on in the process. Each panel was photographed, cleaned, inserts cut and fired, resined, cold coloured, photographed, copperfoiled and photographed before it could be re-installed. When I arrived the first set of photographs had been taken but everything else still had to be done. Most of the work was quite straight forward but labour intensive. The window had about ninety panels and several had two or three layers of plating. Some had to be completely repainted and the project ended up being a few weeks behind schedule.

This is a broken panel that is being cleaned

The first thing I was to do along with my colleagues was to clean the panels and prepare those that needed it for resining. The glass was cleaned with fifty percent acetone and fifty percent water (50/50) or using synperonic a soapy cleaner. These liquids were applied again and again as the surface was gently rubbed with cotton buds and fiber glass brushes to remove the thick sooty residues that had built up over time. Panels with a lot of cracks could take hours to clean so it was a long process. Some of the cracks had been puttied over in the past as a way of holding them together and it was very hard to get this off again. A surgical scalpel had to be inserted under the putty and hammered to break it off. Even after it had been soaked this temporary measure still often resulted in more of the glass breaking.

Some of the glass had been plated as a way of holding the cracked pieces together. Some kind of animal glue had been used for this and it was near impossible to get off and left some of the glass pitted. To remove the glue sections were soaked in pure acetone and pulled at from time to time to help loosen them. This did work a little but really stubborn bits still wouldn’t come apart. The most broken panel was the surviving bottom row panel and it had cracked into miniscule pieces. About five of these small pieces were still stuck onto a plated piece even after the rest had been wrenched off and to remove the remaining parts it was put in the kiln. The first time this was tried the glass seemed to come apart but was left to cool down and so stuck back together. On the second attempt they were separated hot and triumphantly slotted back were they belonged. Nobody was sure if this would work but it worked beautifully.

To resin a panel back together the glass must first be completely clean. After cleaning it as before the crack lines need extra cleaning. Gary Flex an abrasive block is rubbed along crack lines to remove dust. 100% acetone is then used with cotton buds, going over these cracks until it is completely clean. Sometimes while cleaning you’ll notice hairline cracks, these cannot be resined because they will just continue to travel so they must be broken then properly resined back together. I broke them using grozing pliers. The glass was badly annealed and under a lot of stress and so when it cracked it would curve in unusual directions sometimes at right angles something I’ve never seen glass do before.

This panel has been taped together ready for vinyl

Once all the cracks are dealt with Magic tape is cut into tiny slivers and stuck along the crack lines holding them back together. Some of the glass was quite warped so it was difficult getting it to match up again precisely. This is very important however, for aesthetics as well as strength. If you rub your finger along the surface of the glass you should not be able to feel the cracks if they have been lined up properly. This needs to be done really tight too so light can’t be seen coming through them badly.

Once it is taped the panel must be turned over. Clear vinyl is cut to the shape of the cracks, so it is larger than them but not too large. The reason we don’t cover the whole thing with vinyl is because it’s sticky and we don’t want it to remove loose paint. Caution must be taken before applying it because, stick it on the side that has the least paint. The vinyl should be placed down slowly, taking care to minimize trapped air bubbles. It should then be rubbed all over, especially on the crack lines, with the back of a scalpel or something similar to make sure it’s stuck down properly.

Dental modeling wax called ‘Anutex’ is used next for support. It holds to glass in place while the resin dries. It is cut a little smaller than the vinyl but also follows the crack lines. The reason it is cut smaller is because it leaves a residue on the glass that is hard to get off. The vinyl will protect the glass. When the vinyl and the wax are cut there will be some areas that the edges of vinyl will meet vinyl, and wax will meet wax. Either because the vinyl/wax is too small to cover it or because it’s a tricky shape. When this happens make sure these joins are not taking place over complex spidery cracks because the resin can seep up between the joins.

This panel is in the process of being resined.

The wax is hard then it comes out of the packet. Once it is cut to shape is can be heated with a hairdryer so it softens. Once soft it can be moulded to the shape of the glass. The wax will then harden again and give an even surface that the resin can be applied to. It will support the glass so the cracked pieces will stay at the same level to one and other and not sag.

Once all of this is done the resining can begin. Holywell used 2020 Araldite by Huntsman found at . It is described as ‘a transparent epoxy ideal for bonding glass and ceramics’. It comes in two parts, part A and part B. Part A contains bisphenol A (epichlorhydrin) and part B contains isophorone diamine. The resin is only activated when both parts are combined. To use mix ten parts of A with three parts of B. For example ten grams to three grams making thirteen grams of liquid. We measured it out using electric scales and a dish to mix it on collecting the liquid with separate pipettes. Put each liquid in a separate part of the dish incase you make a mistake and then mix it at the end. Mix well. The glue should dry completely within 24hrs if it’s warm enough (the studio was really cold so sometimes we’d leave it overnight on the light box for warmth) but is only workable for about an hour and a bit so if your doing a lot of resining it’s better to mix up less then mix more, rather than mix lots but have it set halfway through.

The resin was applied in tiny dots along the line of the break. The resin will fall down into the crack and run along the crack line. One the dot of resin deflates into the crack another dot is added in the same place until eventually after a few times the crack is full and the resin has nowhere to run so the dot remains. All the dots must stay really round like this at the end of resining so that when the resins almost dry (around 20hrs approx) they are easy to ping off. It is done in dots rather than just painting lines because that would make it hard to remove and also may leave a visible residue. The residue can be removed a little with acetone but other chemicals are available that remove araldite although the studio had none of them.

Once the panel is dry and dots have been pinged off with a scalpel the vinyl and wax can be removed. When held to the light you can see whether or not gaps remain between dots. Sometimes the resin does not run properly and you need to resin the other side as well. It is hard to tell on heavily painted areas but what you are looking for is darker patches that catch the light, that glint at you. Those areas still need resined. The resined areas become invisible because the resins refractive index is the same as the glass, meaning the light passes through it in the same way. It is therefore very effective.

Resin can be used to fill small missing sections and shales where glass is missing, but for bigger areas a new piece of glass must be cut and painted to match before being inserted into the panel. Conservation diagrams are made for every panel showing where the cracks are, where resin infills are and where new painted inserts are. This is so in the future if it is restored again somebody in theory will still have these records and be able to pass them on.

On the 21st of October after a lot of cleaning and resining had been done we started cutting pieces to be used as painted inserts and Emma Russel and Dan Humphrys both employees, began the job of painting new panels where the old ones were either missing or badly replicated. This was extremely difficult. I had a go and wasn’t very successful at it. The problem is all the original paints and enamels are no longer made so thousands of paint combinations have to be gone through to make new ones that look the same. I think this is a skill that must take years to master, I do not have a good enough knowledge of all the different paint types and companies to be able to do it and even the experts really struggled with some of them.

I cut shapes for inserts into the glass out of equally thin glass and got it to the right shape by using a grinder. They were later painted with a mix of enamel and tracing paint, fired, and resined into position. When I rather unsuccessfully tried to match the colours myself I used red for flesh, umber brown and bistro brown combinations of tracing paint along with red, purple and blue Kansa Craft enamels. Mixing these together in different quantities, different thicknesses with different brushes creates different effects, but I still never got it to look exactly like the original. Emma also suggested mixing powdered flux into the paint to make it thinner/more transparent while retaining the strength of colour.

Once the inserts were properly painted, fired and resined into place they, along with the rest of the crack lines and resin infills, need cold coloured. I always thought one needed a special substance for cold colouring but in reality we used ordinary acrylic paint. In particular we used Daler Rowney ‘cryla’ artists heavy body acrylic colour. This was preferable to oil because it dries quicker. It was combined with slow drying gel and glaze mediums also by Daler Rowney. It is important to use the most expensive acrylics because the qualities better so it will last longer. This is mixed to a colour similar to the glass and painted on in dots with a tiny brush to block out the light and hide the cracks. Anywhere glints of light sneak through the acrylic is applied. We did however leave areas where the paint had simply worn away because we wanted to conserve them and thought it ethically wrong to touch them up with cold colour.

This shows some of St Alkmunds panels laid out on a lightbox to be resined.

Once this was done it was time to have the panels photographed. From the 27th of October till the eleventh of November I photographed all of them. They needed a photo of the front with reflective light and then with transmitted light, before capturing the back with reflective light. All surrounding light had to be removed from the image using black paper cut outs and each was photographed with a ruler to show size. Once they were photographed separately they were copperfoiled and photographed in plated layers.

The copperfoiling was very straightforward. Plated panels had silicone glue smeared along warped edges so pressure wasn’t put on them before being copperfoiled together. This helped to keep them in the correct alignment, helped for transportation and was a preventative measure to stop moisture getting in between the glass and creating mould in future. They were not solderered so they would remain flexible to stop the glass breaking as the building moved.

We made up spring clips to hold the glass into the metal frames in the church. This was done by putting a dot of silicone glue onto a clip before sticking a ‘D’ section of rubber onto the top of it. When dry the rubber will cushion the stainless steel clip, which would otherwise be pressing into the glass. Several of these were needed for each panel of glass so we put a lot of them together.

On the 11th of November St Alkmunds window was re-installed. This was done up until I left although I was not permitted to be involved in this. I found that to be a real shame because I have no sight experience and even just to watch something like this being installed would have been of huge educational value to me. Instead myself and one other employee were left in the studio when everyone else went on sight. I will make a point of visiting this church under my own steam in the future if I can find it because I feel like I have unfinished business with it and having spent such a long time on the project, not to see what it looks like reinstalled is very sad.

Swansea Course with Johnathan Cook continued...

'Soldier from Afghanistan'. Painted in several layers before firing using a process I learned on Jonathan Cooks Swansea course. I lightened up areas like the eyes by scratching through the paint with a nail. I think these highlights really make the image. The panel below 'Cat Lady' was done using the same technique.

Swansea Course with Johnathan Cook

This year I was awarded the Award For Excellence 2009 – 2010 with the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Glass Painters. It is a huge honour to be given this opportunity. As part of this travelling scholarship I am able to tour around different glass studios and get an insight into the way they work. So far it has been really amazing. I have attended three different studios already this year between September and December. The placements I've been to to date are Swansea where I studied under Johnathan Cook while attending a glass course at the Swansea Institute; Wells at Steve Clares studio Holywell Glass; and finally Lincoln at the Lincoln Cathedral Works Department under Tom Kupper. I learned new skills and benefited from each of these placements in different ways. I want to talk about what I was allowed to work on in each of them and how I've enhanced my own knowledge of architectural glass through this experience.

First I am going to give a detailed account of my time in Swansea Institute. I arrived in Swansea, Wales on the 24th of September 2009 after a long journey from Edinburgh and started the course on the 25th under the instruction of Johnathan Cook. I had never been to Swansea before but was aware of the degree course there in glass painting and conservation and had considered doing a masters course there in the future so was interested to visit.

The course ran for four days from Friday the 25th till Monday the 28th. It was therefore much shorter than my latter placements but I feel I probably learned just as much in that short amount of time as I did in each of the others so although it was short he managed to cram a lot in and the experience was very valuable. Had I known about it, it is definitely something I would have done under my own steam long before and only helped to further illustrate to me how much I still have to learn after what was to all intents and purposes a self taught four year degree at Edinburgh and how lucky I am to get the opportunity to hone my craft with this award. I have never actually been ‘taught’ how to paint and so to have someone so knowledgeable go through his process as he did step by step was hugely beneficial.

Each day I was there the first half he spend talking to us around a table in great detail about a certain technique or process and then we’d spend the afternoon meticulously trying to emulate said process. I am an avid note taker and I am going to go through some of those notes now to demonstrate the particular activities we took parting and what I learned from them.

On the first day we learned about painting a base layer of either clear vinegar or water. This would be painted as a matt and then we would paint other brushwork on top of it. The particular technique he wanted to show us was how to construct an image with different layers of paint but using only one firing. He said this is how painters used to do it in the past and it was better because it used less energy heating it and so was quicker and more cost effective.

He told me a good way to tell if an old painting had been done using this method was to look at the scratch marks in the paint that have been scraped with a stick. If you can see clear glass through them it was done in one firing where as if there is a matt underneath it must have been done in two.

The first layer, when building up layers of paint in this way, is a base layer or matt. That is all we worked on the first day. We cut several squares of glass and practiced mixing up brown matts of different shades using different quantities of gum Arabic with the vinegar mix then the water mix. First we tried no gum, then a little, then a lot. We applied the paint using a flat brush then created a matt finish with a badger brush and an English stippler. We mixed the paint using pipettes to add a drop of vinegar/water at a time and then folded it into the paint. We covered it with a lid after so it would not get dust in it and sealed it by rubbing a wet finger around the lid so the paint would not dry out. John told us that if we did this we could re-use the paint up to three or four months after it was originally mixed.

Another tip he gave us that I had never heard of before was to add a tiny amount of fresh earwax to paint to stop it frothing. This didn’t seem to do anything when I tried it but perhaps the stuff he kept in a jar from his children was not fresh enough.

He taught us about how to blend paint. We were to use our fingertips or a make up brush to dust the surface or we could use a scrub. If we were to make our own scrub we would need a good quality brush such as a hog hair. It could then be chopped up until it was very short and rounded, pressed down into a heated Chinese take away tin to singe the ends, then sandpapered. The bigger the brush the subtler the blending. Mark making can also be achieved using a pin, nail, feather (goose or peacock quills are best) or a wooden point.

Once the base layer is painted and dried it is not advisable to try and stipple or badger on top with another layer of paint because it will remove the first. I could however paint lines over before firing, but I could only do so once, not going over it so the texture below could remain. When painting over dry paint he advises we mix the paint a little wetter than usual. If vinegar mix is left two or three days it goes harder and more paint can be added without the need for gum.

If you are to paint lines, as we were, you need a brush with a point and not a flat end. His line brushes were long but not as long as some I have seen. He usually works flat on a light box with an easel to check things. He uses a bridge to lean on but advises that one needs a variety, long sweeping lines need height and short ones for detail.

On the second day we painted trace lines over the base layer we created the day before using the water and vinegar mixes like before, but also using lavender. Johnathan also taught us more about badgering. A good badger brush should stand up on it’s bristles on it’s own. You can get flat tips or rounded tips. Flat may be a little better but it’s negligible. Badgering paint forces the paint to dry faster so it is advisable to do it early in the morning when it’s dead cold so you can smooth it for longer. Always take the sharp edges off the glass so you don’t loose the tips of the brush.

Paint needs to be very well ground up when badgering because dust or lumps will really show up and a clear halo will appear around them which will stand out once fired. Glass dries from the edge to the middle so mix paint well to avoid tide marks appearing. Little badgers can be used to pull the paint around when it’s wet. Sizes four and five are good, any smaller and it’s scratchy.

In his opinion when using a paint vehicle, vinegar is usually preferable to water because it dries slower but water mixes good skin tones. He says the best oil to paint with is lavender and paraffin can be mixed with it to help it dry and smooth it out. He said to be careful not to get it on my hands however because your skin absorbs it so if it’s mixed with paint you’ll be absorbing that too. After painting with it the brush isn’t clean until you can’t smell it.

When your mixing up your paint he suggests that usually you should use sandblasted or abraded glass because it will help to grind down the paint. With lavender however it’s best to mix on a clear palette because oils heavier than water and it sits in the sandblasted areas so doesn’t mix as well. Dust shows up very strong in lavender so everything must be kept clean. Use leather to clean glass and get excess paint off brushes so there is no dust from tissues going into the paint. The leather rag can then be washed with washing up powder and re-used again and again.

Gum Arabic has no effect on lavender but copaiba balsam does if two or three drops are used. It makes lavender strong when dry and hardens after a few hours. In a few weeks it won’t move at all. Because lavender takes so long to evaporate the paint mix shouldn’t be too wet. Lavender paint gets better with age and like the vinegar/water mix if it is kept covered it can be used again in the future.

When painting with lavender he suggests the use of synthetic hair because real hair brushes pick up too much and make paint drippy and hard to control. A round brush is better than flat and the brush should be dampened with lavender before it is put in paint. When lavenders dry a line of vinegar or water can be layered on top.

With my newfound knowledge I created several test pieces using his techniques. These were pattered imagery from my imagination with which I tried to apply all I had learned. On the third day we were allowed to take this a little further and paint from an image of our choosing. I photocopied and blew up a couple of pictures from the local newspaper that caught my eye. I painted a woman holding a cat and a soldier in Afghanistan. We all used a mix of black and brown paint. Brown for the background and black on top so we could distinguish the different layers when we were done.

Johnathan suggested firing at 600C and soaking for twenty minutes rather than firing at 650C, which is what the paint suggests. He says this is because at 650C texture from the kiln can be picked up and lighter shading can be lost. I thought my tests fired very nicely at this temperature.

On the final day he taught us about some other techniques and gave us other information that we could experiment with on our own at a later date. The first thing he suggested was drawing on glass with a pen nib using balsam and clove oil (lavender too runny). He says this mix can be kept in jam jar forever and used like an ink well as long as it’s air tight so the balsam doesn’t harden. A stiff nib is needed, one that doesn’t bend with pressure and it will file down quickly against the glass. Once it’s dry you can paint over it with water/vinegar.

He tells me that Hartlewoods and Lamberts are the best makes of glass to paint on, but not to use Tatra because the paint and detail gets lost in firing. He showed me a set of examples he had of this and it was a startling difference. Other tips he gave were to add blackboard chalk to silverstain to lighten it and charcoal to darken it. Although he admitted that this didn’t always work.

With silverstain and enamel he suggests firing at 565C. He warns that silverstain needs ground more than paint and that gum arabic is not necessary because it hardens naturally. The same layering process can be done with enamels although apparently no earwax will be required. Oil can sometimes make green enamel blue and he feels degoussa is the best make. Painting on the tin side can make enamels iridescent, so that’s something to bare in mind.

I left Swansea on the 28th straight after his talk and headed straight to Wells ready to start work on the 29th. I remain incredibly greatful for my trip to Swansea as I found it an enlightening experience and I learned a lot from Johnathan who proved himself to be a superb teacher.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Bill Cliffe Gallery Exhibition

These are images of my work at the Bill Cliffe Gallery in Glasgow where I exhibited with other recent graduates in all disciplines from across Scotland. The gallery hand picked the artists from each art college and invited them to take part. I exhibited my work in the window along with other glass artists from my year that I have mentioned and given website details of in a previous post. Although I was really happy to exhibit at this gallery and felt privileged to have my art chosen with all these other great artists I did feel the display didn't show the panels to their full potential and looks as if it came about as a bit of an after thought. The gallery commission also meant that even after dropping my prices substantially the work was still too expensive.
To see images of the other displaying artists work look on the Bill Cliffe Gallery website

Dundee BSMGP

Detail from larger panel by Douglas Strachan a famous Scottish stained glass artist.

Extract from larger panel by Willie Wilson.

The British Society of Master Glass Painters annual conference 2009 was located in Tayside in the kingdom of Fife from Thursday the 27th till Sunday the 30th of August. I got to go to it for free although it's usually quite expensive so I was very lucky. We went and looked at a lot of historic stained glass in and around Dundee. We looked at the work of notable artists such as Christopher Wall, Louis Davie, Herbert Henry, Alexander Walker, Henry Holliday (some of the nicest), Willie Wilson (really, really fabulous), Margaret Chilton, Douglas Strachan (always a favourite) and Steven Adam Studios. It's well worth a look at some of the local churches if you happen to be in the area. St Andrews especially has a lot of great glass, All Saints church, St Salvadors college and Holy Trinity Church to name but a few.

Glass From the Third Floor

Arabic Panel

The Long Farewell

This panel is three layers thick and copper foiled. It is painted with brown and black tracing paint, fired and sandblasted. When looked through this layering creates a three dimensional effect. It is a family portrait of my parents the day my dad left for the Himalayas. I was very little at the time and it felt like he was gone for ages. This long farewell I feel however is synonymous with many other departures of loved ones, and with the pack on his back it looks a little like he's off to war. I suppose a lot of different interpretations can be read into this one image and although they look happy the title I feel anchors a slight feeling of sadness and maybe even foreboding. All goodbye's are hard and I will always remember my dad leaving as it was the longest time he'd ever been away from us. This portrait for me captures a moment for all of us that would otherwise be lost in time, and once immortalized in glass it could well outlive the people it is of.

Summer Winds

Two layers of fused glass, coloured with frit and sandblasted.

Circle Circle

6mm slumped glass with sandblasting

Underwater Monster and Me

This is a small glass panel with an example of gilding using gold and silver leaf. The leaf has been scratched away to reveal the underwater scene. I then pained the back with sign paints in red and blue. It's actually a really interesting process that I'd never tried before and it was simpler than I thought it was going to be. Definitely something I will try again in the future.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

New Designers

These are images of my work at the New Designers exhibition in London where I exhibited with other artists from my college (click to see their degree show work). Some of there work can be seen in these photographs, and can be viewed again at an up and coming exhibition in Glasgow's Bill Clyffe gallery shortly. They include Amey Dalton, June Morrison, Rachel O'Dell, Julie Chapman, Ramon Beaskoetxea, Ida Wieth-Knudsen and Emma McGarvie.

    I had to build a lightbox in order to exhibit the five panels you can see in the photographs and it was quite a job getting it to London and back never mind getting it up on the wall so I want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped me with this. Thank you.

Amey in a sexy little dress looking at the camera next to June who is hiding behind the mans head.
I'm standing between Amey (left) and Emma (right) who I do not appear to be entertaining very well.

My panels reflecting onto Junes glass table.

Over 8 ft in length my lightbox containing five of my Botanical panels. From left; Lilly, Pine, Swiss Cheese, Rowan, Hogweed.

Saturday, 25 July 2009


My work is currently exhibiting in the Scottish Glass Society exhibition 'Migrate' celebrating it's 30th year.

Exhibition Dates:

Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, Inverness: 4th July – 1st August 2009 St Fergus Gallery, Wick: 7th August – 12th September 2009 Iona Gallery, Kingussie: 19th September – 17th October 2009 Broadfield House Glass Museum, West Midlands 14th November – 11th March 2010

There is an online catalogue which has images from all the artists involved (including myself!) available at;

There is a review of the exhibition from The GLASS Quarterly;

and Hi-Arts has also written an article on the exhibition;

Sunday, 5 July 2009

New Designers

Some of my Degree Show work, the Botanical Panels to be precise, are being exhibited again at the Business Design Centre (BDC), London, N1 0QH. It is a two minute walk from the Angel Station (Northern Line) by tube. The preview evening is on the 8th of July and it is open to the public from the 9th to the 12th. 11am - 6pm Thurs to Sat and 11am - 4pm Sun. Book online at for discounts, they also have plenty of other info on their website.

Video of my work

A lovely lady Karen Bryan who came along to my degree show filmed the work of myself and a fellow student Emma McGarvie. If you would like to view a short video of some of my work visit her blog Europe a la Carte.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Botanical Panels

Cherry Blossom

Botanical Panels Continued...

Swiss Cheese Plant





Botanical Panels

Umbrella Plant

Christmas Cactus

Artist’s Statement

As a little girl I used to spend the weekends in my grannies house where she lived with my uncle. The house was always in disrepair, the garden a jungle, no hot water, no heating. Rooms ran into other rooms and there I could get lost as my mother did before me. The memories that stand out to me the most are those of my uncle. How he took me up on the roof to show me stars; how he watched the football with the TV on mute because the radio commentary was better; how he used to play with the hairs on his arm by wetting his fingers and flattening them down; how he loved to draw bunnies and was never too busy to play with me.
I remember that the house was so cold the inside of the windows would frost. I remember his love of trees. How one year he went into the garden and collected all the seeds that had fallen and planted each one in its own pot and every pot inside a window. I remember how he fooled around with me at his fathers funeral. How shortly after he too succumbed to cancer. How he left behind him all his trees.
Each of us took a few home to remember him by. For years mine lined the bedroom window and when I left home they came with me. The day before I started art college the very first drawing I did in my new sketchbook was of my last remaining tree, his tree, a rowan. And when it died I felt him die again.
I’ve chosen to make these panels as a way of remembering him, so that little tree can live on and so can he. Glass is fragile the way we all are, and life is fleeting and impermanent. I have chosen to depict plants in my panels in a way that will show this. The backgrounds are dark and the sandblasted engravings leave them as white silhouettes. I have constructed them in this way so they appear ghostlike. We do not look at the plant itself but the absence of it. So many creatures of this world are dwindling, so many are ready extinct and as my father says ‘we are the generation that ate the planet’. I wanted these panels to be reminiscent of ancient fossils, where a trace of life remains, or amber where insects are trapped and an echo of that life can be seen long after the life itself is extinguished. These ghost plants are symbolic of death and the destruction man has left in his wake.
The tree with its transparent leaves is to carry the same message, it is the autumn of our years on this earth, with its leaves turning and falling to the ground. I love nature and I wanted to capture a little bit of it. Like taking a snapshot then watching it diminished, before it is finally and eternally gone.

The Echo