Friday, April 23, 2010

Mind and Matter: Interview with Adelaide based glassy Jessica Loughlin

1. How did you become a glass maker?
As a material glass is attractive to most - and perhaps in a large part this is due to it’s unique quality to hold and transfer light.

My Father, who is an architect, probably first brought my attention to the material of glass and its importance in buildings to bring us light , and allow the outside into a buiding.  My mother who was a dancer, so I grew up surrounding by the arts and was encouraged to be creative.

In these surroundings I became interested in the difference that the arts can have to enriching our lives through the simple high minded belief that we create our environment and surroundings, (such as chairs, home, office, cities etc) - and the environment that we create needs to stimulate us, make us think and feed our souls as well as provide a utility.

I was drawn to making from an early realisation of the difference between using the Alessi kettle (designed by Richard Sapper) and other white goods in my childhood kitchen. Unlike white goods, the kettle took on a purpose that went beyond its utilitarian function. This vision to put poetry into objects, which create our surroundings, continues to inspire me.

I intended to study design, however, in the process of making, I realised using and molding the ‘real’ materials was important to my design process and allowed for a more intimate understanding of the object. So instead of designing objects, I left Melbourne to study Glass at the Canberra School of Art.

2. Which glassmakers crafts people, writers, musicians are inspiring?
Agnes Martin - for  her paintings, writings and thinking on beauty. She has a clarity to her writing that is honest and straight to the point. She reminds the maker to be true to themselves, true to their idea. She asks of an artist to live an inspired life and to strip away all the extra information that surrounds the true essence of a piece and the true essence of an art practice.

Howard Taylor, his study on light. When walking into his retrospective at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, his work emitted light off the painted surface, so that when looking at his pieces, you where almost looking at the light in front on the works. This exhibition presented a deep understanding of the ability of light to create form. Another artist that actually uses light to create space and by doing so questions our understanding of space, is James Turrell, who’s work I also greatly admire

3. Can you tell us about and Collections / museums you have found inspiring:
There is a collection of photographs  at the Whitney Museum in New York, which together make one piece “Still Water” by Roni Horn . This piece is series of digital photographs hang around the perimeter of a room. They are detail images of the Thames River, each shot from about the same distance all showing the different moods of water. When approaching a particular image, you realize that the water is numbered, and that running along the base of the image are the footnotes. When reading the footnotes, you almost feel you are it is a stream of consciousness of the viewer watching this water. In the act of viewing this piece you become aware of the space outside (of the landscape of water) and the internal space of the head. As walking towards the piece I notice the moment the barrier of that private interior and the external landscape blur.

4. Are there any specific Quotes ; Ideas ; Places ; that have influences this current body of work:
To me, the Australian landscape is defined by its vast space and a sense of distance. There is an inherent quiet and stillness here, which is unlike any other country. Being out in a vast space creates stillness and space within my mind, and it is portraying this stillness that has remained a constant aim within all my work.

On the way back from a hiking trip 2006, I went to Lake Gairdner. At 130 kilometres long and 48 kilometres wide, it is the fourth largest salt lake in Australia and walking out onto the lake I felt the most overwhelming sense of space – there was not activity noise or confusion rather just salt and sky.

After walking about an hour the mirage that I thought was ahead was water – just 5mm or so. Continuing on it was like walking on top of water.

Light become the landscape and I looked down into the sky.
It’s as if I was suspended in space.

The experience being in this landscape is overwhelming.
For me this is such a powerful landscape- awe inspiring that are beyond your control. A sense of vast – so vast that “our imagination falters in the talk of comprehending it” to Quote Emmanual Kant philosopher in describing the sublime.

As bill viola has said in exhibition catalogue “negotiating rapture”
-“When all the clutter of everyday life is reduced to such brutal minimalism the visual control valves are released and images well up within.”

In this brutally minimal landscape - your are confronted and listen to your own mind.
“The further we go out there, the further we go into ourselves”. Brian Blanchflower ( Western Australian Painter)

Overall I see my works as not representing the sublime, but more as spaces for contemplation - for the viewer to take notice of their own thoughts.

Describe your method of production and the specific themes behind  the works in this exhibition:
The works in this exhibition have in part been inspired by experiences I’ve had visiting large salt lakes such as Lake Gairdner and Lake Eyre, where the relationship to water is such a special one.

Even though there is so little water, the landscape is full of drainage lines—watermarks imprinted on the earth. The ground has been shaped and created by water and it is the memory of water that is dominant in this landscape. The physical marks left on the land are what has inspired these piece.

The process I created to make the work in this exhibition reflects the concept. Solid glass is ground up to make powder, and then mixed with water. With water, the powder is moved across a the surface of a large sheet of glass. I then leave the water to evaporate: it leaves an imprint—a watermark—in the glass. Again, the movement of water through evaporation. Once all dry the glass in then fired in a kiln. This process then can be repeated to build up the layers of glass powder. Then parts of the surface edges are ground and put in the kiln for the final firing to bend the glass, as so the piece reflects the some lightness, like hanging paper.

Tell us about your workshop:
I am part of a workshop called Gate 8 which myself and Deb Jones started in 2006. Now we have 6 artists and designers working here, all in different media. I have always worked in a private group studio where there is a great balance between working in a studio on your own and the support, dialogue, creativity and fun you can have working with others. I have included a couple of snaps of our studio.

Mind and Matter: Meditations on Immateriality
10 April - 16 May 2010
Masahiro Asaka, Gabriella Bisetto, Brian Corr, Mel Douglas, Deb Jones, Jessica Loughlin, Janice Vitkovsky, Richard Whiteley
Mind and Matter maps important sculptural, poetic and cerebral tendencies within contemporary glass