A Glimpse Into The Archives: The 75th Anniversary of the Welsh School of Architectural Glass
Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Alexandra Road, Swansea.
Until 20 June 2010 (Tues-Sun 10am 5pm)
Just a hop across the road from the glass department of Swansea Met, the Glynn Vivian celebrate its 75th birthday as a centre for glass art with an exhibition trawling the archives for art, documentary records and ephemera. The show is eclectic and attracts many of the schools former students and tutors to preview night. A large number have chosen to remain living in Swansea, and their output can be seen on major Swansea landmarks including Amber Hiscott’s glass leaf in Castle Square.
More a nostalgia fest than anything, there are plenty of retro gems within this exhibition including the fabulously iconic 1960s black and white photograph (pictured right). It features a distracted, short-haired girl in a mini dress and flipflops leaning upon the open door of Swansea College of Art holding a painting. Other artefacts are scattered throughout the modestly scaled show. Curated by Chris Bird-Jones, MA Glass Programme Director, Welsh School of Architectural Glass the show offers us a glimpse into the School’s archival materials and includes designs, drawings photographs, tools from the process of stained glass making charting changing technology’s influence on the creative act.
Here is the history bit: Glass art was introduced to Swansea in 1935 by William Grant Murray (Director of the School of Art 1909-1943). Grant Murray came from Glasgow where, in the 1890s, there had been an explosion in the field of interior decoration. One of the School’s first students was Swansea’s Howard Martin, who went on to launch the first diploma in stained glass, and who became a world-renowned glass artist. Many leading glass practitioners have graduated from Swansea over the years, including Alexander Beleschenko, Mark Angus, Martin Donlin, Graham Jones, Catrin Jones, Chris Bird-Jones, Sarah Hall, Amber Hiscott, Vanessa Cutler, David Pearl and Sachiko Yamomoto. Students from the School have won an unprecedented number of awards and prestigious competitions and their work can be found in collections across the world.
Glenys Cour, former long-standing tutor in the Architectural Stained Glass Department from 1963 to 2000 enjoyed the show. Catching the impossibly glamorous lady on opening night she remarked on how ‘lovely it is to see so many familiar faces, take a delightful walk down memory lane and see the Department’s good work continue.’ She was far from alone on this thought, the gallery was packed. I’m told there will be more festivities to celebrate the 75th birthday across the year so watch this space for details.