Cast glass | 14-03-2024

Political influence: an interview with David Reekie

As he embarks on a solo exhibition of his glass sculptures and drawings in East Anglia (23 March-27 April 2024), renowned glass sculptor and educator David Reekie gives some insights into his work.

You have had a long and illustrious career in contemporary glass spanning over 50 years. What led you to start working with this material?

From 1967 to 1970 I was a student at Stourbridge College of Art. The course then was described as ‘Glass, Plastics and Light Transmission’. I wanted to study sculpture at the time and this seemed an interesting, multi-material course. It introduced me to the versatility of glass.

‘Failing to Act’ was created in 2022.

You specialise in quirky, kiln cast glass sculptures. Why do you favour this technique?

I have always like making three-dimensional forms and modelling and constructing are major elements of my work. Casting in glass is part of the process.

David uses his own lost wax process to create his captivating sculptures.

Drawing is an important part of your design process. Tell us more about your creative approach.

Sketch books and working out potential ideas on paper is the starting point. I then go on to more formal drawings, which give a good idea of what and how I am going to make the work.

David’s expressive drawing entitled ‘Different People’.

What message(s) do you want to convey through your art? 

My work has developed into social and political comment. Using the figure allows me to play with various narratives when working on a piece. I also use satire and dark comedy and a sense of theatre to allow the viewer to interpret the work as they wish.

The drawing of ‘Different People’ is similar to this finished glass piece, yet has subtle changes.

What is your favourite tool or piece of equipment and why?

My favourite piece of equipment is the electric kiln because, barring power cuts, I can sit back and let heat do its job.

Do you have a favourite piece you have made?

No – After 50-odd years there have been too many to choose from.

‘A Point of Detail’ was completed in August 2023.

Where do you show and sell your work?

Through galleries internationally. My upcoming solo exhibition, ‘The Abstract Figure in Glass’, is taking place at The Corn Hall in Diss, Norfolk, UK, soon and features both my glass work and drawings. Drawings are key to all my work; they are the beginning, where I have time to think and pull together emotions and frustrations about the complex world in which we live. My drawings are very rarely seen, and this show is a great opportunity to bring together my 2D expressions with 3D finished sculptures.

Drawing entitled ‘Something of a Relationship’.
The finished sculpture, ‘Something of a Relationship’, shows how David can achieve great emotion in his work through mastery of technique.

What advice would you give to someone starting out on a career in glass today?

Use your imagination, avoid preconception, develop your own sense of individuality, and do not allow technique to control your ideas and how you make them. Give yourself time to develop your work and ideas and build up an identity.

David’s drawings are rarely shown in exhibitions. This one is ‘Dialogue Drawing’.

Do you have a career highlight?

Yes – it was being awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Wolverhampton University.

Where is your practice heading next?

I will keep working on ideas and making work as long as body and mind allow me.

And finally…

I must add that having a partner in life who helps and encourages you to carry on is a bonus.

About the artist

David Reekie was born in Hackney, London. After studying at Stourbridge College of Art (1967-70), he moved to Birmingham College of Art Education (1972-73), he became Fellow in Glass at Lincolnshire and Humberside Arts from 1975-80. He was a founder member of British Artists in Glass (1976).

He was Lecturer in Glass at North Staffordshire Polytechnic (1976-86) and External Examiner in Glass for Middlesex Polytechnic (1988-91).

He has lectured, taught and exhibited internationally for many years and his work is in museums and collections around the world.

He holds an Honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Wolverhampton University.

Find out more about David Reekie and his work via his website:

The exhibition ‘The Abstract Figure in Glass’  takes place at The Corn Hall, 10 St Nicholas Street, Diss, Norfolk IP22 4LB, from 23 March to 27 April 2024.

Main image: David Reekie’s ‘Triple Act’ (1996) measures 51cm high x 86cm wide x 40cm deep.

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