ARTSPEAKS India has launched India’s first ever Glass Maker’s Club, a platform and forum that is directed towards the medium of glass and its multiple avatars. At the core of the Club’s agenda will be to provide Glass the space and recognition it deserves; to bring together artists, practitioners, writers, connoisseurs and collectors exploring the medium in different ways; and to collectively address the infrastructural and other challenges that makers of glass continue to face. Though a niche field of practice, glass art in India is connected to a rich legacy of historical trade and courtly patronage, building community artisanship and crafting skills of a very high standard, particularly in blown glass techniques. Glass has made its presence felt in the space of contemporary art and design as well, with a few individuals and studios leading the way.
The inaugural panel discussion of the Glass Maker’s Club coincided with the opening of ‘Bodies of Light’ – Padma Shri awardee, artist and sculptor Hemi Bawa’s solo exhibition presented virtually. The discussion brought about, for the first time, a public discussion on contemporary glass art. The Artists shared their personal journeys and fascination for the medium as well as the challenges and perks that are associated with working with the material. The discussion highlighted relevant practical and conceptual concerns of the artists. Sisir Sahana, sculptor and professor, spoke about the science and alchemical interactions that go into experimenting with glass, and how as an artist, understanding the process of making and creating often overrides the particularity of a medium. Hemi Bawa described the inherent possibilities of cast glass and articulated the infrastructural needs and requirements, that cause the medium to be not chosen by many. Anjali Srinivasan, artist and educator from Massachusetts, raised important considerations of resources, raw materials and artists responsibilities towards climate change awareness and ethical work processes. Other parts of the panel opened up thoughts on collaboration, the function of local artisans, quality of materials and the art market.
In building a forum with a focus on glass art, ARTSPEAKS India seeks to initiate an international network of professionals and interested members, who can share their expertise and participate in an evolving discourse through discussions, workshops, studio visits, publications, exhibitions and other activities. The Club will work towards popularising the medium, reaching out to support practitioners and attempt to bridge the gaps that exist in material availability, technical collaboration and studio facilities. It will initiate the development of focused residencies and showcases that will not only ensure representation of South Asian artists but also build interfaces for international dialogue and foster global creative exchange. The Club aims to provide accessible information and gather data on artists, galleries, museums, educators, vendors, conservators, cultural institutions, government organisations and others that are connected by a common engagement with Glass. This will open up accessibility for collectors and aficionados of glass art, design and craft. Step by step, the Club hopes to initiate a bi-monthly talk and panel series that will integrate local, national and international peers on the basis of the exploration of Glass.
Glass is a medium that is as magical as it is unforgiving. With its initiation in early Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilisations, the medium has come far as an irreplaceable structural element in architecture, design, and household accessorising, as well as in art. Glass comes from an organic silica base, and is recyclable and durable. It is termed as amorphous solid – a state between solid and liquid. There are many fascinating structural and physical aspects of glass that offer tremendous possibilities in the creative world. The Glass Maker’s Club will direct its programming towards engaging in a multi-layered way with the medium, in order to promote, educate, and develop accessibility for it and encourage its resonance in a greater way with its makers and admirers.