2nd November – 26th November 2016
Drawing inspiration from organic geometry, Kelly has thrown into the mix saturation of hue and infinite colour possibilities to produce glass sculptures that allow the viewer to appreciate what is already evident in the natural world.
All is stardust
For the past decade Elizabeth Kelly has been focussing her studio work on cast glass.
Just as large and intricate buildings are constructed from the humble terracotta brick, Kelly puts her glass ‘bricks’ to work in the tower structures for which she has been so rightly acclaimed. Kelly’s research into the architectural history of glass bricks formed the basis for her Winston Churchill Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2010. Towers were prominent in her solo exhibition at the National Glass Art Gallery, Wagga Wagga, where one is now permanently in the council foyer; another stands in the Lommel City Hall in Belgium where she was recently artist-in-residence.
Other towers have been accepted for highly competitive prizes such as the City of Hobart Art Prize, where Steel and Marmalade (2012) was first shown. This work reveals not only Kelly’s ongoing interest in architectural scale, but a growing interest in mathematics. Geometry lies at the heart of architectural engineering, as it does in the natural world. The form of Steel and Marmalade refers to the helical form of viruses – not only a way to visualize this property shared by all living things, but the sequencing on which organic chemistry is founded.
In further demonstration of Kelly’s ability for productive tangential thought, her recent human-scale works such as Red Whorl are built on the spiralling accumulation of elements suggestive of abiogenetic life, a theory that examines how the natural process of life arises from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds. In this body of work she brings into her design process the concept of chirality, or the asymmetry of chemical structures in the triggering of growth sequences. With the inevitability of natural law, her forms echo the 240 million year-old marine invertebrates, the ammonites, of such geometric purity they have been nicknamed the ‘Fibonacci fossils’.
Another preoccupation for Kelly is colour. The chemistry of colouring glass is one of her unique strengths. She has mixed most of the batch colours you see in her work, adding rare earth and metal oxides to the clear glass cullet in the crucible to create the beautiful range of colours that emerge from her furnace. It is colour too that can be used to describe not only our world, but our universe. The elements of the universe – forged in the furnaces of stars – all emit a certain colour, allowing us to, as particle physicist Professor Brian Cox writes “work out exactly what elements are present in the Sun …and any of the stars you can see in the sky, and you can measure exactly what they’re made of.” [http://www.althinking.com/2011/03/19/professor‐brian‐cox‐wonders‐of‐the‐universe‐stardust/4/]
Glass is a seductive medium. The scale of Kelly’s ‘ammonite’ series allows one to handle the piece, feeling the weight of the material, exploring the form and delighting in the variations of tone as one element overlaps another.
Merryn Gates 2016
We are stardust
We are billion year old carbon
We are golden
Woodstock, Joni Mitchell, 1970
“I have always enjoyed changing scale; micro to macro cosmic observation has a way of changing perspective, and tailors to the aptness of purpose, and sets challenges in resolution of any work.”
My work in glass over the last 20 years has focussed on industrial handling processes of pressing and centrifuging to design works repeated in production incorporating a specific (largely transparent) colour range. During the last decade I have focussed on the composition of elements to construct larger objects, moving from utilitarian objects to a sculptural emphasis that still incorporates industrial methods of production but strongly draws from theoretical research for inspiration.
In these intricate iterations of cast, assembled and cold finished works my point of departure is the examination of the origins of abiogenetic life and elemental organic geometry as inspiration. The theory of abiogenesis examines how the natural process of life has arisen from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds. Furthermore I am examining chirality or the asymmetry of chemical structures in the triggering of growth sequences, elemental in the understanding of what trips this potential ‘life’ switch. My work has a strong serendipitous affinity with marine invertebrates, realised through compositions of rhythmic sequences.
About Elizabeth Kelly
Elizabeth Kelly is a glass artist with an MA in Visual Arts (1997) from Sydney College of the Arts and a history of thirty years of making with 10 solo exhibitions and numerous group exhibitions in Australia and overseas, including USA, Italy, Belgium, Vietnam and Japan. She has work in numerous collections including National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Seto City Art Museum, Japan; American Museum of Glass New Jersey, USA; Lommel City Hall Collection, Belgium; Wagga Wagga City Art Gallery, NSW; Australian Parliament House, Canberra; Legislative Assembly of the ACT; Artbank and ANU Collection, ACT.
Kelly has been the recipient of many grants and awards, most recently she was nominated for the 2016 Irvin Borowsky International Prize in Glass Arts, Philadelphia USA and a finalist in the 2016 Waterhouse Science Art Prize SA.
Upon completion of her Masters degree in 1997, she commenced a three-year contract as Head of Glass workshop at the JamFactory Contemporary Craft & Design Centre in Adelaide. During this period she travelled to Europe for an exhibition in Venice and to demonstrate as a master glassblower in Leerdam, Holland. Kelly has travelled extensively through North America, Canada and Japan to further her professional development. This included working in several private studios for short stints and also completing a fellowship at the Wheaton Village Creatic Glass Centre of America. In 2008 she was invited as an Artist in Residence to the Seto City International Ceramic and Glass Centre in Japan
In 2003 Kelly initiated Studio Tangerine in Canberra, a purpose built self-funded glass design and sculpture studio where she continues to work.