Glass - Flameworking
HOLD: To Hold Still. to contain. to hold dear.
A collaborative exhibition by Jess Dare and Amanda Dziedzic at the Museum of Economic Botany, Adelaide August to December 2018.
Supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.
Glass has long been associated with botanical specimens and botanical collections, plants have been transported, studied, preserved, presented and modelled in this viscous material for centuries.
Houses of glass were built in which to propagate, grow and perpetuate exotic plants from far away lands. Plants were transported in glass Wardian Cases, on historical voyages, across sea and land. Under microscopes plants are studied on glass slides and petri dishes. Specimens are preserved in glass vessels, vials and bell jars. In museum collections they are presented in glass cabinets. Between 1887 and 1936 the father and son duo, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka created exquisite and intricate glass flowering plant specimens that skilfully wove nature and craft together.
Jess Dare and Amanda Dziedzic draw on their unique glass skills and techniques and through the process of making, explore this relationship between glass and nature.
The glass objects in this exhibition, whilst representing plants also explore ideas of memory and personal histories and the artist’s shared fascination of the human desire to hold and preserve moments in time.
You are invited to delve into this glass wonderland and with Dare and Dziedzic share their awe and curiosity of nature.
Since becoming a mother I have grown even more obsessive about time. The time I have with my son. The time I spend away from my son. The measure of time as I watch my son grow. The time I have in the studio. The time I have to make. Holding on to time. My lack of time…
I use nature as a metaphor for the fragility and transience of time and memory. To me flowers are a constant reminder that life is ephemeral, ever changing, momentary and precious.
Each time you recall a memory you are recreating it, subconsciously changing it, embellishing or reducing. This collection of work represents various states of transition, impermanence and the inability to hold on to time and memory.
Through the traditional technique of lampworking (now more commonly known as Flameworking) where glass is melted over a hot flame ,I create plant-like structures. These glass plant forms are based on my memory of plants; they are not replicas of nature but representations of nature with small abstractions.
Trained as a jeweller, I have always been drawn to the miniature, it’s how I view the world, in small minute details. For me, this intimate scale draws people in, to share the sense of wonder, intrigue and awe that I find in the world of nature.
My work draws parallels between the different ways that people throughout history have attempted to preserve flowers, by means of flower pressing, specimen collection and botanical models. My practice draws inspiration from the unique legacy of the meticulously crafted glass botanical specimens created by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka.
I come from a family of gardeners and the gardens I grew up in were ordered, methodical, neat, meticulous, curated and measured. These are traits I hope to bring to my work and through repetition, patience, perseverance, and in the act of making, I find myself in my own garden of glass.
Conceptual Flowering Plants
Conceptual Flowering Plant series: named after Pierre Jean Francois Turpin’s, Conceptual flowering plant of 1837 which was a teaching aid popular in the 19th century and depicts an imaginary plant that incorporates the characteristics of many diverse flowering plants, with various kinds of stamen, leaves, stems, bulbs, tubers and even leaf gals.
This plant series was created as a part of an exhibition title The Nature of memory, an exhibition of jewellery, objects and photographs expressing the ephemeral nature of memory through the fragility of glass and nature itself.
As a jeweller I have always been drawn to the miniature, it’s how I view the world, in small minute details. For me, this intimate scale draws people into my sense of wonder, whilst the gigantic thrusts a world upon the viewer. I also use this scale to accentuate the sense of intrigue and awe that I get from the natural world.
My current work draws parallels between the different ways throughout history people have attempted to preserve flowers by means of illustration, photography, flower pressing, specimen collection and botanical models. Another powerful influence has been the extraordinary works of Father and Son, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka- particularly the highly realistic collection of glass plant models created by for Harvard University between 1887 to 1936, a collection of more than 3,000 models, 780 showing species at life-size, with others showing magnified details.
During a residency at Square Peg Studios in Sydney in 2012 I was also granted access into the archives of the national museum to see the collection of sea anemones by the Blaschka’s. A number of them had been badly damaged which was upsetting to see but also very insightful as you can see the inner working of how the Blaschka’s created them and the internal wiring.
Whenever I see a beautiful flower I feel an overwhelming and instinctive desire to preserve it forever- a natural human reaction to the exquisite things of this world. But flowers are living things too – they bloom and then wither away and are a constant reminder of the transience of life itself. The sharpness of memories are rounded off by time; the colours fade and details are lost. Even the prickliest of memories lose their sharpness in time. This idea of deterioration is most evident when trying to capture, preserve, study and admire a fleeting moment of a flower in full bloom. Something is always lost or compromised- the smell, softness, detail, the dimension or colour.
I have spent a lot of time in gardens, growing plants, taking photos, observing and my design bench is surrounded by photos, plastic plants, dried flowers and pictures, so all the information is around me and in my mind. I create from my memory of plants, I do not try to replicate nature instead my view of nature, with small abstractions.
This collection of works speaks of my fascination with this universal human need to hold on and preserve memories and moments in time.
Photography by Grant Hancock
Collection of glass jewellery.
Photography by Will Nolan