Stained: a current glimpse

National Art Glass Gallery: 4 May - 29 July 2007

Stained - external view 

This exhibition reveals the current trends of the stained glass movement in Australia. Featuring 13 prominent glass workers, the exhibition addresses the significance of this art form whilst highlighting the free and creative nature of the medium.

A Wagga Wagga Art Gallery initiative

Stained glass has a vast, romantic and influential history from its Romanesque domestic beginnings through to its contemporary current day iconic place as a powerful and time honoured art medium. While it is difficult to pinpoint the birth of stained glass art, it could be argued that stained glass began primarily as a Christian art form based on remains found at Pompeii and Herculaneum. At this time work that could be termed stained glass was used by wealthy Romans in their villas and palaces in the first century A.D.

A cultural vivification in 1950s and 1960s Australia produced stained art glass styles originating from European models, but with a strong sense of the Australian identity. In the 1970s young Australian artists and art students returning from Europe and the United States, and artists migrating to Australia began making autonomous works. These overseas influences, and lectures and workshops by visiting stained glass artists such as Ludwig Schaffrath (1981) helped to develop a powerful tradition of conventional and contemporary design styles that are uniquely Australian. In November 1981 Klaus and Jenny Zimmer put together the exhibition Contemporary German Glass and Contemporary Australian Flat Glass at the Chisholm Institute, Victoria. Some of the artists in this exhibition were Klaus Zimmer, Gerhard Emmerichs, Ede Horton, Warren Langley, Cedar Prest and David Wright.

During the mid 1970s the National Art Glass Collection was established in Wagga Wagga, through acquisitions and donations. The National Art Glass Gallery and Collection is a stunning resource and a source of pride for the people of Australia. The collection and gallery is managed by the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery and displayed in a dramatic purpose built architecturally designed building. Over the past few years under former Gallery Manager Susi Muddiman, the Gallery's operations were expanded to include a more diverse selection of quality exhibitions and associated public programs. This shift in programming has seen a range of projects come to fruition. Wagga Art Gallery is committed to producing diverse high quality art glass exhibitions on a regular basis and Stained: a current glimpse is an excellent example of this program.

The exhibition Stained: a current glimpse showcases the current state of the stained glass movement in Australia. Staged in the National Art Glass Gallery, this exhibition has been curated by the Gallery's Curatorial Assistant: Glass Michael Scarrrone, and addresses the significance of stained glass in the development of professional art glass practice in this country. Often overlooked in favour of hot glass, the title of this show presents a subtle irony of this important art form being viewed as the "poor cousin" of the comparative excitement of hot glass blowing. The exhibition features 12 prominent art glass workers from all corners of Australia and highlights the free, diverse and creative nature of this medium.

Stained glass artists primarily work on a commission basis whether it be domestic, commercial, architectural or ecclesiastical in nature. Stained: a current glimpse allowed the artists to go beyond the commission boundaries to create independent works. While the artworks have elements of a traditional leaded and painted panel, many other techniques have been employed such as laminating, etching, sandblasting, engraving, kiln-forming, and incorporating other media such as metal and timber. One of the prerequisites for this exhibition was all artists had to have a minimum of twenty years professional art glass experience. The result has been a mix of style, technique and innovation that has given visitors to the exhibition a chance to see and experience the craftsmanship, skill and broad creative nature of glass works that come under the banner of stained glass. The twelve artists in Stained: a current glimpse are Jan Aspinall, Norman Birrell, Gerhard Emmerichs, Marc Grunseit, Jeff Hamilton, Wolgang Jansen, Jason Makeig, Cedar Prest, Paddy Robinson, Michael Scarrone, David Wright and Klaus Zimmer.

An exhibition showcasing stained glass exclusively was clearly overdue and the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery is very proud to be able to display this exhibition with the support of the Wagga Wagga City Council.  The number of visitors coming through the gallery to view this exhibition has been outstanding and is a testament to the fact that stained glass is an admired art glass style in Australia that will continue to innovate and prosper. Stained: a current glimpse runs from 4 May through to 29 July 2007.