Yesterday I promised to try to hit just a few of the high points of the two glass conferences I attended in the UK this month. Besides an engaging lecture series, the North Lands conference also encompasses masterclasses that take place at the program’s well-equipped studios.
But beyond good facilities, nothing makes a glass studio soar like a brilliant and dedicated studio manager. North Lands Creative Glass has one in Michael Bullen – to the max!
Michael’s been running the studio in Lybster for just over six years and during that time has gained a reputation as something between Magician and Technician. Hardly news to anyone who’s spent time at North Lands.
What may be news to a few is that Michael is also a talented artist. I’ve long admired his glass painting but it was just last summer that I saw a pair of kilncastings in a small group show in the Lybster gallery and swore to commission a set for the collection at Latheron House.
After a year in the making the rooks have come home to roost this summer. I wish I’d gotten better photos, but the quick snaps below will have to do for now.
The interiors of what appear to be solid carved glass blocks are actually cast of black, mixed with a transparent amber. A combination of solid glass and fine frit results in an ambiguous material that seems to float somewhere between glass and stone. The cutaway sections have been fanatically polished down to reveal a mysterious cavernous core. (Michael claims the birds were the size of eagles when he started).
OK…I’ll never manage to explain it and this snapshot is rubbish. Maybe I can convince Karlyn (aka Latheron House Curator) to get a better picture someday….
In the meantime…the Latheron House Rooks stand proudly – if a bit peckishly – at either end of the old fireplace, awaiting our return.
We can’t wait to see them again – and the talented, sunny smile of Mr. Bullen!