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Visual Arts

Max Jacquard at the Ruskin Glass Centre
Max Jacquard at the Ruskin Glass Centre

British Glass Biennale 2006

The British Glass Biennale, held in Stourbridge, is an exhibition of excellence in British glass - reflecting the highest levels of creative imagination and technical achievement.

Biennale entrants vied to win one of two £5,000 prizes on offer for the best piece in the exhibition, and the best example of collaborative work – the 'Made Together Award'. The Biennale is the largest selling exhibition of current contemporary glass in the country.

In the Biennale:  Marie Worre's Yellow Bloom
In the Biennale: M. Worre's Yellow Bloom

The British Glass Biennale finished on the 17 September 2006, it was a highlight of The International Festival of Glass, which was held in Stourbridge on the 25 - 28 August 2006.

And the winner is…

Best in Show went to Max Jacquard for his work entitled For my Lost Loves III - The Ongoing Moment, made from kiln-cast glass, bronze wire, and graphite treated wooden board.

"The pieces were first inspired by an article I read about the 'Maidens of Minsterly', a set of seven garlands of faded paper flowers hanging on heart fronted wooden pegs in a Shropshire church," said Kent-based Jacquard, who also exhibited at the 2004 Biennale in Stourbridge – as well as in Madrid, and London in the last two years.

Max Jacquard at the Ruskin Glass Centre
Max Jacquard at the Ruskin Glass Centre

"The idea of garlands was a kind of floral tribute to girls betrothed to be married but who had died before their wedding day.  The delicate poignancy of these pieces caused me to think about the nature of remembrance and its connection with feelings of longing and loss.

"I developed a technique for casting in crystal using the 'lost tissue technique'.  The results suggested crumpled dried flowers and held for me a kind of anti-heroic beauty.  In these works, I have tried to say something about the fragile persistence of memory."

Judged by an expert panel, comprising of Peter Layton, Jennifer Opie, Lucy Abel Smith, David Prytherch and Jackie Lee, Jacquard's work was one of 102 on show at the Biennale.

The 'Made Together Award'

The 'Made Together Award' prize went to two lighting designers, Iestyn Davies and Adrian Mulley for Ripple, a wall light made from glass, steel, aluminium, LEDs, sensors and a microchip.  Davies  is based at the Ruskin Glass Centre, Stourbridge, and specialises in glass and manufacturing large interior and exterior installations. Mulley designs and prototypes lighting and commercial software programming for the lighting industry.

Ruskin Glass Centre
Ruskin Glass Centre

The wall light reacts to its environment, using ultrasound sensors to detect movement.  Ripple's sensors then translate this movement via a specially created microchip into commands which will instruct LEDs to pulse with various colours.  Its LEDs are mounted behind the decorative front glass, creating the spatial ripple effects.

The presentation of the two £5,000 prizes was made on Thursday, August 24th 2006. The show is on at the Ruskin Glass Centre, Wollaston Road, Amblecote, Stourbridge DY8 4HF until September 17 2006, open 10am to 5pm.  For further details, visit

British Glass Biennale 2006 – View from the Chair

David Prytherch, Chair of the Jury 2006, writes:

In the Biennale: Glass by Helen Millard
In the Biennale: Glass by Helen Millard

The process of selection of the pieces to be shown at the British Glass Biennale was extremely difficult this year. Overall, the standard of work submitted was very high and it would have been possible to mount a show 50% larger had we the resources. It is an enormously encouraging sign of the vigour and creativity alive in today’s studio glass art in the UK.

Most encouraging, for myself and the other members of the jury, is the fact that alongside the established names, there are many new artists, some just graduating, some already beginning to make a name for themselves, but all producing work that is exciting, innovative and technically outstanding.

The future of UK studio glass has rarely looked so good, as this exhibition and the superb catalogue show us, with an extremely diverse range of works spanning every technique and style of glasswork I can conceive of, (plus a few I would never have imagined!).

Selecting the prize winners, the 'Made Together Award' for a collaborative work and the British Glass Biennale Award was strangely painless. The ‘Made Together Award’ was dealt with first and simply by visiting each work as a group, and briefly discussing them, a unanimous conclusion was quickly reached.

In the Biennale: Bjork by Ginger Ferrell - detail
In the Biennale: Bjork by Ginger Ferrell

'Ripple' by Iestyn Davies and Adrian Mulley was a clear winner. Fascinating and mesmerising, it was a work that clearly could not have been produced without the true collaborative efforts of the two very different areas of expertise. This innovative piece demonstrates the great potential for the fusion of glass and technology, craft and digital creativity. It will be fascinating to watch future developments and it is hoped that this collaborative effort will be the first of many.

For the Biennale 'Best in Show', each juror spent around an hour independently viewing the works on show and drawing up a shortlist which varied from around six to 12 pieces. We then got together and compared notes to discover areas of overlap, where at least four out of the five jurors had the same name on their list.

In the Biennale: Glass by Alison Kinnaird
Glass by Alison Kinnaird in the Biennale

This produced a final list of nine artists, Laura Birdsall, Vanessa Cutler, Max Jacquard, Keiko Mukaide, Yumi Nozaki, Colin Reid, Louis Thompson, Jessica Townsend and Anne Vibeke Mou, whose works we then re-visited and discussed. This took us down to two, Max Jacquard and Yumi Nozaki, both of whom we felt might be equally deserving of the prize. After another half hour discussion, however, we had our winner.

Max Jacquard’s work 'For my Lost Loves III - The Ongoing Moment' is a lyrical masterpiece, a deft blend of visual poetry, technical brilliance and deceptive simplicity. The jury were unanimous in their praise of this exceptional piece, and speaking to the various artists present after the announcement, it was a popular choice.

I am proud to have been a part of this show, and intrigued by what 2008 will bring us!

last updated: 18/09/06
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