I’m just home from back-to-back glass conferences at Stourbridge in Britain’s West Midlands and Lybster in Scotland.
If I were to blog on nothing else for the next month, I couldn’t begin to cover the rich territory of kiln-glass that I saw while at the International Festival of Glass and North Lands Creative Glass.
So, in the days ahead, I’ll try to hit just a few of the high spots.
My first high spot is named Jo Newman.
Jo is my favorite kind of maker. Stepping into her incubator studio amidst the hyperactivity of the IFG Conference at the Ruskin Glass Center, I was at the same time transported and grounded.
Soft-spoken and seemingly unaware of the power of what she makes, Jo has the remarkable ability to find the quiet essence at the core of an object or an experience.
Her smallest works are proof that emotional impact does not need to arrive in a big package.
Her website captures the range of her work. I especially love the studio blog. I would encourage artists interested in developing an effective online presence to look at how Jo has done it.
After two days of my popping in and out of her space between lectures, demos and exhibitions at the Centre, I was inspired to follow the source of her Wightwick Crows and attack the back lanes of Staffordshire in search of Wightwick Manor. (My favorite art is the kind that drives your curiosity beyond the preordained path. I had NOT allocated time for a drive into the countryside during this conference!)
In the midst of a riot of William Morris furnishings – spectacular as they are – Jo had found a pair of humble avian shadows tucked into an image in an upstairs hall and translated them to glass.
Insatiable as I am when it comes to art from the kiln, Dan and I are now living with a wee mob of “Jo crows” at our home in Scotland. They stop me on the stairwells and remind me of the power of small moments – and of Jo’s remarkable vision.