Written by Ed Burke
My wife Margaret and I moved to Wales in 1987 just after the birth of our first child. Prior to that we had been living in London, working in various glass blowing studios to gain the necessary experience to set up our own workplace. We wanted our new baby to grow up in an environment of peace and safety so to move from the hustle and bustle of the big city to the calm of rural North Wales made total sense to us. All of our peers thought we were crazy. Many of those around us said that it would be a disastrous move; the first step down the road to obscurity.
Most of those London based studios that we worked in were situated in grey brick, purpose built, drab industrial cubes on small business parks. You would look out of the window, if the building had one, to view other identical grey cubes full of people that you would never talk to, going about their daily toil. By contrast our studio in North Wales is surrounded by great natural beauty. To the West the tree lined green fields roll off into the distance till they meet the sheer splendour of the Snowdonia Mountains. To the North and East of the workshop a small river cuts its way through the landscape. A small stone bridge strides the river leading to the village pub. The small village community is friendly and warm, proud of its surroundings, heritage and culture.
My medium of choice for personal expression is glass. Discovered by the Phoenicians about 4000years BC and at that time was classed as a highly prized jewel. Some 4000 years later the Romans invented the concept of blowing into glass to make it hollow and with that the secrets of this wonderfully subtle material began to be unlocked. The precious qualities of glass were used to great artistic ends in the building of the medieval churches and cathedrals all over Northern Europe.
The appeal of the traditional grandeur of the stained glass window, expressed through colour and light, is as strong today as ever it was. Catrin Jones work, that can be seen in many places all over the UK is testimony to this. Work by Amber Hiscott, Chris Bird-Jones and David Pearl is also enjoyed in numerous public spaces, architecturally and sculpturally, within th contexts of urban planning and public art. Drawing on a vastly different imagery and sources of inspiration, each of these artists expresses a fundamental understanding of their medium through their uses of design techniques and presentation.
The symbiosis between the passion in the glass making process and the passion of this wonderful land have helped us achieve more than we could have dreamed of at the outset. Craft in Wales has a long and proud history, but even a quick glance through this publication at the work currently being created is proof that the present is bright and the future even brighter.