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Three x 3 exhibition, Flowerfield Arts Centre, portstewart, Northern Ireland, 3rd October - 29th October

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3 x 3: Contemporary Glass

New works by Scott Benefield, Andrea Spencer and Sean Campbell - throughout October
DURING the month of October, Flowerfield Arts Centre will host the work of three mid-career artists whose common denominator is the material they have chosen to work with: glass.
Several years ago Andrea Spencer, Sean Campbell (work pictured right) and Scott Benefield banded together with the aim of exposing a wider audience in Northern Ireland to contemporary Studio Glass. They were three artists working with three different techniques and addressing completely different subject matter, but found a common ground in the relative scarcity of artistic glass on view.
Their strategy was to present a range of wide work to the widest possible audience, and their tactic was to organize an exhibition that would travel around the country.
Each of the artists employs a different method of working with glass, and each pursues a substantially different artistic agenda:
•Andrea Spencer’s finely detailed hollow sculptures (see 'Mermaid's Purse', below right) exploit the material properties of transparency and fragility characteristic to flameworking, whilst also addressing form, content and qualities found in the nature.
• Sean Campbell’s work references wall mounted artwork, such as painting and printmaking, by fusing together multiple layers of coloured sheet glass into thick panels. Visual themes are explored through colour, shape and composition but with added dimensions of transparency and depth.
•Scott Benefield’s intricately patterned blown vessels (below, left) are closely tied to the forms of functional glass objects, and engage the history of the medium through their innovative application of traditional Italian glassblowing techniques.
This exhibition is supplemented by an educational display that presents the history of glass as an artistic medium, explains beginnings and significance of the global Studio Glass movement, and offers information about the particular glassmaking techniques that are on view in the exhibition spaces. There are also videos of the artists at work in their studios as they create some of the pieces included in the show.
The essence of the global Studio Glass movement that began in the early 60s was to take the material out of its usual industrial setting and put it into the hands of artists. Glass production had long been governed by utilitarian needs and the demands of the marketplace, which were met by industrial designers and modern methods of mass production. When artists were involved with the glass factories—typically in the design of limited edition pieces—the traditional division of labor between designer and maker was respected, and the resultant work reflected no direct, hands-on experience by the artist.
Studio Glass was an experiment that merged the sensibility of artists with the skills of a craftsman, that scaled industrial technologies down to a manageable size for private studios, and that made an ancient medium into a vehicle of contemporary expression. The results of this experiment have been well received in America, Japan, Australia and many part of Europe, where an entire ecosystem of schools, galleries, publications and collectors devoted to Studio Glass has flourished.
Three x 3: Contemporary Studio Glass will be on view October 3-31, 2011 with a special opening and artists' presentations on October 8 from 1-5. For more information, get in touch with Flowerfield on (028) 7083 1400.