Amazing Glass At Saatchi’s ‘Collect’ Fair

Working with antiques, vintage and retro, it’s all too easy to forget the artists, artisans and crafts people of today. Their work will become the antiques of tomorrow, and there’s no better time to learn about their work than now – because one can find out about their journey, inspirations and techniques as they happen, direct from the proverbial horse’s mouth. All-important stuff.
The Crafts Council’s annual ‘Collect’ fair, previously held at the V&A, and now at the Saatchi Gallery, is perhaps the best event in London to peruse the wonderful array of artworks in ceramic, glass, jewellery and more. I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening this year by Jasper Dowding, an innovative and progressive glass designer and maker who I first met last year at the Ajeto Glassworks in Novy Bor, in the Czech Republic. After talking with him across an evening, I became a huge fan of his work, which combines traditional high quality Czech cutting and making techniques with a strong contemporary vibe. I was excited about seeing one piece in particular – a glass praxinoscope – that was still in the planning stages last year.
For those of you who don’t know what a praxinoscope is, it’s a late 19thC optical toy that was a step on the way to early cinema. Spin the bowl or the mirrored central block, and the motif on a card inside the main bowl appears to move when seen the a mirror – think of Eadweard Muybridge and his photographs of human and animal motion.
Jasper chose a running horse for his praxinoscope and, this being glass, he chose to cut and engrave it into the bowl, rather than use a printed card. The quality was jaw-dropping, from the carefully blown body to the superb cutting and the flawless spinning gold lustre central block. And it worked perfectly too – carefully spinning it caused the horse to run!  The quirky, ‘antiquarian’ inspiration and choice of subject is also a winner for me.
Alas, this first example was too expensive for me to add to my collection at £7,000, but Jasper’s work starts at much less. I was particularly taken by some asymmetrically faceted ‘black glass’ bowls with rich gold lustre interiors – at £580 each, it’s hardy surprising that they had already sold. I think Jasper is one to watch for the future – his work is already quite remarkable. I’m clearly not the only one who thinks that, and it was great to bump into contemporary glass über-connoisseur Alan Poole of Dan Klein Associates at Jasper’s stand.
Being Australian, Jasper is represented by Glass Artists’ Gallery in Australia, and you can still check his work out in person at Collect at the Saatchi Gallery, until the 9th May 2011.

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