Collaborations | 15-02-2022

Amanda Moriarty Memorial Prize winner extends his glass practice

Calum Dawes was awarded the 2021 Amanda Moriarty Memorial Prize, provided each year by the Contemporary Glass Society. This time, the prize was made possible by the generous donation of time and assistance of glassmakers James Devereux and Katie Huskie. They provided two sessions of two days at their Devereux & Huskie Glassworks. Here, Calum describes his experience and what he gained from the opportunity.

I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity, which allowed me to further develop a body of work I started in lockdown, and to explore otherwise unattainable scale and complexity.

At the initial session with James and Katie, in early November 2021, we spoke about form and scale.

Then we made a series of vessels, some of which were much larger than I had previously attempted. We also experimented with colour overlays, as well as form.

Two of the bowl forms. The larger one is called ‘Capsize’ and the smaller one is ‘Octopus Chilli Soup’.

This was a great experience. I have not worked with makers to produce glass in this way before and, once I adjusted to it, it was really enjoyable.

Next, I took these vessels back to my studio and selected the ones I would like to take further. I spent many hours over a few weeks painting imagery onto the interiors of the bowls with vitreous enamels.

One of the reasons that this was such a valuable experience was knowing I would have James and Katie’s help. This meant I could commit to creating much more detailed imagery, safe in the knowledge that the bowls were much more likely to be successful.

In the end I decided to paint two of the largest vessels and a set of four smaller ones. Inside I painted marine life and somewhat surrealist imagery, which I think worked well with the liquid-like optics of the glass when filled and sculpted.

Detail of ‘Capsize’ vessel, featuring delicate imagery applied in vitreous enamel.

Once the bowls were completed, I very carefully posted them back to Devereux & Huskie. We brought the bowls up in the kilns overnight and the next morning James picked them up, flashed them to fire the enamels fully, then put them back in the kilns. Then they were filled with a mass of glass before smoothing out and sculpting the surface of the ‘liquid’ using the hot torch.

The largest of the bowls were extremely heavy and would have been very difficult to handle without the skills and setup at Devereux & Huskie.

Immediately before putting the pieces away, we added small, sculpted details to the surface of the glass.

It’s always exciting to see the painting fired and then transformed by the mass of solid clear glass. It was wonderful to see it form out of the bench.

I am thrilled with the results and learned a lot about refining the process. I also understand better what works, in terms of scale compared to the level of detail in the imagery, and how the solid glass affects the optics.

The experience has taught me about how working with other artists can realise more ambitious projects, and helped me to assess what I think is effective about this work.

Again, I am extremely grateful to be given this opportunity and I’m very excited to continue with this body of work.

Find out more about Calum Dawes and his glass here.

Main image: Calum Dawes (right) discussing the creation of one of his bowls with James Devereux as Katie Huskie looks on.

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