As we approach the launch of our first ever glass exhibition, our Exhibitions & Events Officer Kaylee Jenkinson, reveals why she wants to share her love of glass with Manchester…
“I’ve absolutely loved researching and putting together Heated Exchanges.
I’m really lucky in my job that I get to work with a whole range of different materials. I see and touch objects at exhibitions, fairs, galleries, and workshops. My favourite of all these materials is glass. And for every person you find that loves glass – there’s plenty of people who really don’t like it. I often find myself trying to persuade people that it’s great!
The first time that I saw Harry Morgan’s work was at the British Glass Biennale in Stourbridge (2015), where he was awarded the ‘London Glassblowing Award for Emerging Talent’ having graduated the previous year. His work has stayed in my mind ever since, and seeing pieces subsequently in London and Edinburgh spurred me on to ask Harry to exhibit in Manchester, his home city.
What Harry’s work really demonstrated to me was that glass didn’t have to be see-through, and it didn’t have to be a vase. And if it did happen to be see-through or a vase – it didn’t have to look like you expected. Glass could be joined with other materials, it could be stretched and squished, heated and cooled and manipulated beyond recognition. And I really, really wanted to show Manchester what glass could do.
I went in search of more of Harry’s work at Gallery TEN in Edinburgh, where I met the lovely owner Paul and we talked at length about their new exhibition, Masters of Light. It was in Gallery TEN that I was drawn to a large glass bubble being stabbed by a piece of metal, and I added Alexander Pearce to my (then imaginary) glass exhibition line-up.
Earlier this year I was drawn like a moth to a flame with Elinor Portnoy’s work, which I saw at the Royal College of Art exhibition. Elinor had just come to the end of her postgraduate Ceramics and Glass degree, and had been investigating the origins of glass through her work. Her ‘glassshakes’ put a big smile on my face, and she too was added to my list.
Watching people work with glass is mesmerising – its makers are highly skilled, often working in pairs, and are pretty fearless if you ask me – glass workshops are hot and frantic places where working quickly and precisely is vital. If you’ve not seen glassblowing in real life I highly recommend that you visit a hotshop like World of Glass in St Helens, the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, London Glassblowing (to name a few) or even take a look on YouTube (although this option comes without the heat and frantic energy). It’s brilliant and I’m in awe of them all.
Thank you to all those people who’ve talked glass with me extensively… in particular Paul from Gallery TEN, Michelle Keeling (and her lending library), Victoria Scholes, and Kirsteen Aubrey at Manchester School of Art. I really hope that Heated Exchanges makes you think twice about glass and what can be done – I’d love to hear what you think.”
Heated Exchanges opens at Manchester Craft & Design Centre on Thursday 10th November with an official family-friendly launch on Saturday 19th November. Find out more here