Craftsmanship / “The Tender”. Jacqueline Bradley. Canberra Glassworks, until March 27. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE.
JACQUELINE Bradley is a sculptor from Canberra who typically works in fabric, wood and bronze. After successfully applying to become an artist in residence at the Canberra Glassworks, this exhibition presents works that combine glass with other materials.
Bradley describes her practice as process-oriented, and herself a “tactile maker” used to manipulating her materials.
This artist-in-residence program, funded by the Australia Council for the Arts, provides time and space for artists. They can explore ideas and new materials without having to worry about earning enough money to survive. As Bradley told me, having the time to study glass, learning what it and she could do with it, and how it could add to her repertoire, was incredibly beneficial. She could simply “play with matter”. Bradley found that it retains fruit color and clarity in sunlight, as well as the ability to organically stretch and form through processes of heat and movement.
“During the residency, I tested and experimented with ways of echoing and repeating forms through moulds, castings and stampings. I have recreated objects over and over again in multiple versions, just like a fruit is recreated on the tree and a stone has the potential to create orchards everywhere,” she said.
Much of Bradley’s work over the past 18 or so months has focused on the peach, depicting the phases of growing, maturing and then rotting. The title of the exhibition “the tender” refers to flesh, both human and fruity, engaging our senses of sight, smell and touch.
When a peach pit breaks in two, each half is different, representing a positive and a negative. Focusing on the functional aspect of glass making, Bradley presents two drinking glasses titled “Halves”. These can be made in multiples, such as the peaches at the base of each piece.
A wooden stand holds seven rings of pulled clear glass. They look as if they are waiting to be removed from the wall and twirled around a body, moving to the rhythm of unreleased music. The assembly of each end of the glass is the important point to look at.
In “Four Stones”, a steel bracket holds a piece of gray cast glass. Four peach pits, or stones, were cast on top of the glass. There is a slight blockage in the glass, representing a patchwork quilt.
Bradley was keen to try all forms of glass making – and there are plenty. She made a pale pink crown – Cherry Crown – of flame-worked glass, supported by a steel stand.
The installation of this exhibition plays with the spectator. Two bronze Bradley stamps for use in his glass, rest on what looks like an old cushion. They are simple and practical tools. Two other works might escape the reader’s eye – a thin red line in glass across the floor of the gallery and a piece of glass leaning against a window.
Artist-in-residence programs are a very important part of the Australian Council’s work. This exhibition demonstrates how beneficial it can be for all artists. La Verrerie is keen to introduce glass as a material to experienced artists who work in other media and to spread knowledge of this fascinating material.
This residency was a very successful iteration of the program.
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Ian Meikle, editor