Standard Deviation (Plotting A Course) is an installation in the Studio Gallery and Foyer area of the Fisher Gallery. In this exhibition an exciting, young group of Unitech students challenge conventional notions of glassworks as primarily ornamental or functional objects.
The four artists involved in this exhibition, Cameron Clarke, Ruth Milton, Jo Nuttall and Liz Sharek, are finding new ways to explore ideas and issues in a medium that has long been associated with skillful artisans - craftspeople whose interest lies within pre-existing guidelines for the development of glassworks. The works are large and address issues concerning the physical properties of glass while exploring sculptural and conceptual concerns.
As far back as 1500 B.C. Ancient Egyptian societies were using forms of glass for its decorative properties - vitreous surfaces were fused to stone and clay in its earliest known uses. Centuries later the Roman Empire initiated what has been termed a ‘golden age of glass’ with their use of cameo rock crystal to form glass that was engraved, cut and moulded. Perhaps it is time to reinvent a new ‘golden age’, to re-explore the manner in which glass can be used.
For the installation the group will transform the Fisher Gallery’s Studio Gallery into a seductive house of glass, the viewer will be led into the gallery by following a path of green glass ‘rocks’; cast in sand the rocks symbolise the everyday, the non-precious qualities glassworkers often try to avoid. Once inside they will be confronted by four large works; glass that hangs suspended from the ceiling, embedded in rotting fenceposts, displayed with recycled objects, glasswork that towers from above. Glassworks that challenge and resist classification.
The topical nature of the artists’ work; embracing personal, environmental and geographical concerns, in many ways marginalises them within the world of glassworking, they have in effect become a ‘standard deviation’ (a statistical term referring to a standardised deviation within a group) as they plot a new course for the medium of glass.