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Glass Art: The Zeitgeist of the Moment

‘New Scandinavian Glass’ celebrates the changing face of Scandinavian glass work is Vessel Gallery, London. Gallerist Angel Monzon tells TL mag about it…

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Photography by ES Photography

At Vessel Gallery, London there seems to be an oversized piece of toffee sitting atop a display table in their exhibition. It shiny pink form curves at interesting angles and its thousands of tiny layers that run through its body call to be touched, eaten, enjoyed. However, on closer inspection one realizes that this is not pink toffee, nor is it edible. It is a piece of glass art entitled Soft (in pink) by fine artist Maria Bang Espersen who uses glass as well as glass performance as the main part of her artistic practice.

This glass piece sits amongst many other diverse pieces of glass work, from vases and vessels to more abstract sculptures. What unites these pieces are that they represent the new world of glass that is starting to develop in Scandinavia. The exhibition, entitled ‘New Scandinavian Glass’ explores the shift that has taken place in the Nordic regions practice of glassblowing in the last century where, as a result of industries either slowly dying out or outsourcing their production to cheaper countries artist have had to find alternative solutions and a strong studio practice has emerged.

Angel Monzon, the founder of Vessel Gallery describes the change that is underway in Scandinavia: “Something really interesting is happening. Although the glassmaking industry has slowly died out in the last five to seven years there are new things developing: There are new furnaces, new centers for excellence and new forums such as the Glass Factory in Sweden which is a hub for experimental glassmaking. In Sweden we also see artist moving into the old factories in an area called the Glass Kingdom in the south. In Denmark, there is also more happening. In Finland, they are venturing back to the old manufacturing spaces and making new, loosely associated group of artists. There is definitely something new coming up, people are doing it themselves and I thought that was quite interesting to communicate here in London.”  

The exhibition was inspired by the show ‘Scandinavian Glass – Starting All Over’ which showed at the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft in Denmark earlier this year. However, the exhibition at Vessel Gallery presents the work to a different audience which represents the commercial side of the art world. Monzon said that at the exhibition he “saw that many of these artists have had their work traveling and exhibited for up to four years but they are not offered for sale which is a shame. They are trying to do something new by creating a sort of mini-industry of artisans but then they get offers to be in shows which are non-selling. So I made a selection which I thought would work in my territory in the UK for my clients, my collectors, the market that I am carving out.”

New Scandinavian Glass coincides with a resurgence of the interest in glass art globally with many exhibitions focusing their attention on this material. The popularity and importance of glass as a 21st-century material is evident in the sale of two of the Soft series of Maria Bang Espersen being acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum from Vessel Gallery as a result of this show.

When one thinks of Scandinavian Design minimalist wooden interiors and furniture come to mind. However,Monzon says that building on the resonance and respect which surrounds nordic design he feels it is his “mission to promote the high-end craft and the art side of Scandinavia as well.”

New Scandinavian Glass will be on display in full until the December 22. Due to the popularity of the show, the exhibition is extended in a condensed form into January 2019

New Scandinavian Glass
New Scandinavian Glass
New Scandinavian Glass
New Scandinavian Glass
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