Main Gallery Exhibition
6 April – 15 September 2019
On 20 June 1998 National Glass Centre opened to the public starting a new chapter in the story of Sunderland’s connection with glass making. In the 7th century Benedict Biscop brought glaziers from Gaul to make the first known stained-glass window in the country for St Peter’s monastery.
Production of glass on an industrial scale began to grow in Sunderland after the Reformation, starting with a number of bottle-works and culminating at the end of the 20th century, with the production of Pyrex glass sold across the British Commonwealth. One of Sunderland’s most successful glass making companies was Hartley Wood and Co. Ltd. Particularly recognised for their production of coloured glass, the company, by 1998 known as Sunderland Glass Works, moved into the newly built National Glass Centre occupying the building’s ground floor.
As the industrial scale production of glass went into decline in Sunderland, interest in the potential of glass grew amongst artists working internationally. During the 1970s and early 80s courses in glassmaking began at what would become the University of Sunderland. The University’s teaching offer in glass and ceramics took over the building’s ground floor in 2000. This exhibition tells the story of Sunderland’s role within the development of the International Studio Glass Movement presenting the work of artists who have worked in Sunderland before and since the opening of this building twenty-one years ago.
The exhibition includes work by founders and innovators of the Studio Glass Movement including Erwin Eisch from Germany and Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová from the Czech Republic. Internationally known artists have taught at or graduated from the University of
Sunderland and many graduates now teach at organisations reaching from the USA to China and from Scotland to New Zealand. The show is brought up to date with newly commissioned work by Erin Dickson and Jade Tapson, two of our most promising recent graduates.
It must be noted that National Glass Centre has benefitted greatly from many individuals who are not artists but have worked to support and promote Studio Glass including Professor Dan Klein, Professor Sylva Petrova, Professor Peter Davies and Dr. Jack Dawson.
NGC 21 includes more individual artists than any other exhibition presented at National Glass Centre in recent times. We are proud to say that we have worked with enough artists of international calibre over the last twenty-one years to be able to fill our gallery spaces twice over. We are sorry not to be able to do so.
National Glass Centre would like to thank Tim Betterton, Glasmuseet Ebeltoft, North Lands Creative, Mike Davis and Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums for loaning works from their collections and the individual artists for their generosity in making this exhibition possible.
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