Design drawing by Chris Day
Exhibitions | 11-01-2022

Chris Day wins commission from CGS and Stourbridge Glass Museum

In October 2021, glass artists were invited to submit proposals for an outstanding artwork, to be displayed in the new Stourbridge Glass Museum’s (SGM) entrance foyer.

The commission was jointly organised by the Contemporary Glass Society (CGS) and the SGM, which will house one of the finest collections of both traditional and modern glass in Europe when it opens later in 2022.

The collaboration is one of many events organised by CGS throughout 2022 to highlight its 25-year anniversary.

The selection panel, comprised of members from SGM and the CGS, wanted an artwork that would stop visitors in their tracks, while also being dazzling and thought provoking.

Three designs were selected for further scrutiny and artist interviews from the many interesting proposals. The shortlisted artists were Chris Day, Sacha Delabre and Anthony McCabe.

“It was a very hard decision to choose between these three artists, as all of the proposals would have complemented the space,” said Susan Purser Hope, chair of the CGS. “However, we were captivated by the storytelling and inclusive history of the UK and, in particular, glass making in Stourbridge, that featured in one presentation.”

That presentation was by Chris Day, who won with his proposal for a piece entitled, ‘After the Darkness the Light’.

Chris explained, “In the late 17th century, an estimated 50,000 Protestant Walloons and Huguenots fled to England [from northern France and Holland], about 10,000 of whom moved on to Ireland. In relative terms, this could be the largest wave of immigration of a single community into Britain ever.

“Unfortunately, today Britain is still impacted by the immigration of people fleeing persecution and war. One of the problems faced by these people is the label society has placed on them due to the negative representation of the media and some political bodies. The Huguenots left a legacy in the glass industry, and I would like to create a piece of work that represents a positive view of immigrants and how they have enriched Britain’s landscape throughout history.

“My family were part of the Windrush era and faced the ugly side of racism from the start. I feel that stigma is now being placed on this new wave of people instead of seeing the benefit they could bring.

“I would like the work to open a discussion about immigrants and change the dialogue that we have all seen in the press. I want to celebrate and acknowledge the positive achievements that they bring.

“The boat has always been a way of getting to this country and I would like to create a boat shape using the copper structure I have developed in my work and use colours that represent the flags of the different counties of people who have come to Britain.

“The copper structure will be blown into, to create a tension in the work, while the bright colour disguises this with its beauty.”

Chris Day glass boat
A previous glass and copper boat design made by Chris Day.

This commission represents a special coming together of two of Britain’s major promoters of contemporary glass – the CGS and SGM. It is a unique opportunity to celebrate the future, whilst gratefully acknowledging the foundations on which the wonderful world of glass is built.

This new, contemporary glass artwork will be installed and officially unveiled at SGM during the International Festival of Glass, in August 2022. It will welcome and draw visitors into the museum and will become part of its permanent collection.

Stourbridge Glass Museum is based at: Stuart Works, High Street, Stourbridge DY8 4FB, UK. (Please note that it is not opening to the public until April 2022.)

Main image: Chris Day’s sketch design for a boat-shaped glass and copper sculpture, which won the competition.

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