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This is a personal set of thoughts and photographs taken by myself, which may give members who did not attend, and other web surfers, a glimpse into the conference soon after it was held. It's not an official report on the Ausglass Conference 2001 and is not authorized by Ausglass in any way. I hope you enjoy reading this rather long page.
The Conference was held in Melbourne from 24-28 January 2001 on a series of hot and humid days, mostly 30+°C. Most of the conference was at the Caulfield Campus of Monash University (venue pictured), with the last day at the City Campus of RMIT University.
Day Zero
I arrived at Melbourne airport from Tasmania at 11:00, so missed most of the morning chat sessions. After registration and lunch, I attended a chat session on the recently launched Ausglass Web site, but it could have done with more interaction (chat) with the audience. Comments on the Ausglass web site were solicited. The afternoon saw the formal openings of the new Hot Shop at Monash University and the two exhibitions, with wine, speeches and much standing around. (Day Zero? I'm a computer scientist and often start counting from zero. Ausglass didn't number this day.)
Day One
The morning sessions (New Directions) by Sylva Petrova, Brett Littman, Clare Bond, Robert Bell and Kirstie Rea were, for me, an intensely thought-provoking set. All through Sylva Petrova's talk I was turning over the relation between artist and artisan (and sometimes both in one person) in my mind. Brett Littman made me redefine what I thought of as glass art. After all if found objects and crushed glass heaps are glass art, then that ancient art of ships in bottles is also (mixed media) glass art. I mused over whether I could say something interesting with a custom blown 'bottle' of unusual shape and potential. Clare Bond's careful examination of a single piece was outstanding and inspirational in its complexity. Kirstie Rea finished off this series with something we would encounter again and again: sheer energy and exuberance in Straightening out the Rollup.
Every session in the afternoon (New Technologies) was terrific. For me anyway, being an engineer and scientist and therefore design-oriented rather than a spur-of-the-moment worker. The exploration of the Atrium at Federation Square led me to the instant realization that the glass facade was based on a two-dimensional glassy structure (short range order, long range disorder, triangular instead of tetrahedral base). I don't think I got this intrinsic glass celebration over to the architects who were more into geometry, but three people came up to me afterwards and said that they really appreciated my comment/question. Again, I scribbled down ideas to think about.
Nathan Munz's talk on safety(Glassform), new options with laminating and toughening, and non-reflective surface coatings was excellent. If you want transparency, then 1% reflexion must be better than 5% right? I simply have to send him a test piece, and explore an idea I've had for some time.
Finally the problems of supporting glass facades, patches, wind deflection, sizes, invisibility of supports, and other matters by Richard Dryzewucki was fascinating. This is glass in the really big scale (tens and hundreds of metres), and while I probably will never use this information directly, it makes me look at glass in architecture differently (and I get some ideas from there).
Day Two
After the first two sessions of Day Two, I staggered out to morning coffee with complete sensory overload. Martin Blank's sheer projected power and enthusiasm drove the heart rate up for everyone in the audience (collective aaah! when we saw 300kg of hot glass sculpture drop and break in the video!). The display of excellence in Derix Studio execution coupled with the concepts of so many well-known artists in hundreds of slides left the mind reeling as well. Wow! As more than one person was heard to say.
And then for something completely different. The Gerry Cummins Hypothetical on stained glass restoration was very effective in exploring a complex issue. We wandered through quality control, ethics, conservation, responsibility (of curators, experts and artists), documentation, and many other topics, in a very effective manner. More sessions in future conferences should engage the audience as participants.
The afternoon on Working to a Brief took us through a range of personal views of commercial world. For me, I took away a number of ideas centred around using glass in furniture and fittings, and the possibilities of other materials (like Corian™, Corinthian™ and Azteque™) that could be shaped in glass-like ways.
Then to the Ausglass Annual General Meeting, and formal business.
Day Three
Moving to RMIT, we were taken through personal interpretations of Glass as Art. Jack Wax took us through his students' work ranging over an eclectic range, while Ursula Huth gave us a very personal interpretation of dwellings as castles and protective cells, boats and boat images, and her travels and work in India and elsewhere. Ian Mowbray's session had the audience in fits (subtitled A far fetched story about masculinity, glass casting, sex, craft, underpants, heat failure, and other things) but had a deeper cerebral content for those that listened hard. James Minson's slide show of flameworked objects was arresting. I particularly liked his careful distinction between artistic concept and technical excellence; I suppose because I think some studio glass seems to rely mainly on technical execution but is light on message. As well, he indirectly explored the containment of space through virtual capture rather than solidity.
I have given a web page over to a few photos of the Members Exhibition. The pieces that I photographed reflect my interest in them or their techniques, so other equally good and many better pieces are not represented. Commercial gallery exhibitions (there were many) were not photographed.
Auction, Prizes, Parties, Demonstrations
Other activities included prizes for each of the exhibitions, Pilchuk scholarships, demonstrations in the Monash Hot Shop, etc. There was a lively auction of donated glass objects and services at the close of the conference; proceeds going to the Vicki Torr Prize and Ausglass revenue. The opening and closing parties are left to your imagination.

© Copyright  2001  AHJ Sale
Page last modified on 2001 February 4