Helen Grierson is a glass artist based in Broomhill, Northumberland. Creating fused and stained glass artwork, beginner and advanced workshops and commissions. Subscribe this blog for latest news and updates from the studio of Glass Artist Helen Grierson.
While in Singapore I was a privilege to meet Florence Ng one of the pioneers in her art. Florence has spent 3 decades perfecting her art and skill and pushing the boundaries in architectural and sculptural glass art.
I was very grateful that she gave me a few hours of her time to talk about her work and how she started. Along with her daughter Sara and husband she has been able to build up a business that produces work of such originality and design, pushing the limits of glass making as an art form that it is truly inspiring.
Ng has a background in illustration and design but has always seen the potential in glass as a canvas for her work. I think what struck me when talking to her was her strength and determination. She has a deep knowledge of the material she works with and she is not afraid to take risks with it. That is one of the things I admire about her the most, apart from the fact as a young woman she managed to equip herself with the skills and knowledge she needed to create a successful business by travelling around the world. She has also retained her enthusiasm and passion for the material and seeks out new and challenging projects . One such project she talked about was a stained glass window for a church which she is designing so that it is more a 3D piece of work rather than 2D.
I felt very inspired by Ng and after looking around her show room and talking to her have come away excited about getting back into my own studio and creating some more riskier pieces…….lets push those boundaries!
You may have noticed either from the website or by popping down to the studio in Broomhill that it has been closed for the whole of January. This is because last year my little sister went to live and work in Singapore and this month both myself and my partner Joe decided to get ourselves out there, spend some time with her and try and visit a few places. I think it was the longest holiday we have ever had. We spent three weeks, some of which was in Singapore some in Thailand and some Malaysia.
With Singapore being only one or two degrees below the equator the first thing that hit us was the heat but Singapore is a very sophisticated city and has most things sorted. So everywhere is air conditioned and if they can’t air condition it they build sheltered walkways so the sun can’t get to you. The government there has been in power for years and without getting into politics too much what that has enabled them to do is long term strategic planning. So the infrastructure is very good. Singaporeans are encouraged to use public transport so cars are very expensive to run and buses, metro and taxis are very cheap and very efficient. One of the first things people will say about Singapore is it is very clean…almost squeaky clean, with no litter or graffiti to be seen anywhere. My brother-in-law tells me it is all to do with the idea that if it does not benefit the whole then it is not done. It was interesting watching school children getting on the bus after school, all very smart, all well behaved and polite, all looking at their phones and my question was,” Do they rebel?” Which is what I thought all children did but maybe it is a cultural thing and only children in the west go through a rebellious phase as part of their breaking away and finding their independence. Do Singaporean children rebel, who knows?.
There are also no homeless, no beggars. There are people that are working well into their 80’s and 90’s. The work ethic is very strong here and the Singaporeans I met are very proud of their city.
I realise as time goes on I am interested in achieving more with others than as an individual. Yes I have a successful business but I have that success because I love working with others. My business is not about what I can achieve as an individual but about what we can achieve together as a community. That is why I loved the whole #justacardcampaign because a large part of it was about working with others and community.
Whether I am running work shops, creating a piece of commissioned work or working collaboratively with other artists it is never about just me it is always about the group. Of course it has its pros and cons especially when strong personalities are involved but when there is strong motivation and excitement and ideas running to and from each other it is a good place to be.
Having now settled into The Old Bath House and watched others move in the ideas start flowing as to what is achievable together and what is achievable within the community of North Broomhill and beyond. Open Studios gives us all a chance to get to know each other a little better by working together to create an event to launch The Old Bath House.
Ellie Davidson Archer, who is printmaker and illustrator and has a studio in the buiding has already started organising the social media side of things by creating a facebook,and instagram page for The Old Bath House.
For the Open Studios weekend I have asked two final year students from Glasgow College of Art to exhibit their work in my studio. It gives Hannah Morice and Almudena Rocca a chance to exhibit in front of the public and also gives them some exposure. Young emerging artists need supporting and I can give them wall space to exhibit and support their work. This collaboration for me is a great opportunity to engage with younger people and their work.
Morice says of her work "When painting I don’t use any source material or know what I am going to make. I realise what I am painting as I layer the ink and the landscapes gradually appear. I grew up in the deep countryside, we didn’t have a local shop and the nearest bus stop was a ten minute drive away. I live in a busy city now and it’s so loud and fast. I guess I always involuntarily paint natural landscapes to remind me of when I was young and life was easier".
Rocca says of her work, ”I am an artist studying at The Glasgow School Of Art. I have been developing a series of line drawings, which consist of faces and figures. Often they will contain political and affirming messages for those who are marginalised by society.”
At some point over this weekend I hope you will be able to come and see what is going on and be part of this growing community.
There will be food provided by Box Pizza, whats not to like!