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Environment ‘virtually’ retained in glass

by Geraldine Hinter

Janet Laurence and Gabriella Bisetto in the Ceramic and Glass WorkshopPine cones, spices, leaves and other organic material preserved in egg-shaped spheres of blown glass will be featured in an exhibition by respected Australian installation artist, Janet Laurence, who recently undertook a short residency in the SA School of Art.

Internationally recognised for very large sculptural site specific installations often using sheet glass, Laurence was invited by the head of UniSA’s Ceramic and Glass Workshop, Gabriella Bisetto to do some hot glass work as artist-in-residence at the School, and to give a public lecture regarding her work.

Working with hot glass was a new and interesting experience for Laurence. With help from five UniSA glass students and Bisetto, who did the glass blowing for her, Laurence created egg-shaped spheres with an environmental theme.

"While blowing glass at a temperature of about 1150C, organic material was inserted into one end of the egg-shaped spheres - like a ship in a bottle. When the eggs were closed, the pine cones and other organic objects began to burn. Although reduced to carbon, they still held their form inside the spheres," Bisetto said.

Because a lot of oxygen is released through the burning process, the spheres could not be sealed until the glass had cooled.

Laurence’s collection of egg like spheres will be the first body of work that she has created and exhibited using the hot glass medium.

Other major works by Laurence include a significant sculpture of layered glass panels in Changi Airport, Singapore; the 49 Veils Windows for the Central Synagogue, Sydney; and a living installation in the Olympic Park, Sydney that reveals the transforming water chemistry on the site while creating a green zone of forest water and mist that has brought back all of the water birds. Her work Heartshock in the recent Handle with Care 2008 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of SA, as part of the Adelaide Festival, continues Laurence’s environmental theme.

Laurence will exhibit her hot glass spheres in The Melbourne Art Fair and Arc One Gallery, Melbourne in August 2008.