Pictured above: Gingko
After majoring in art at university, Chris Beckett spent most of her working life as a primary teacher. She discovered glass 17 years ago and hasn’t looked back since.
BY CHRIS BECKETT
Glass is a magical material that both reflects and draws in light. By using experimental techniques, I work intuitively to create unique light-filled sculptures and installations. My inspirations come from the natural world, combined with the wisdom hidden within ancient cultural symbolism. These ideas are then combined with my understanding and practice of personal growth.
I like to start a new piece of work with an idea that’s part of my current thoughts, such as how I can visually represent connections to my past and future pathways or family ancestry and how that has shaped who I am today. From that point, I might then use a photograph as a stepping stone to choosing colours of glass, plan out the size of the piece, and do a sketch or design to size. Next, it’s down to cutting and combining colours to bring it to life. I fire the piece and then I might add further glass or drawings to it, and fire it again. Sometimes I do up to six or seven firings.
Once completed, I then start to work on an oak base for the piece to stand on – cutting, planing, sanding and waxing the wood to complement the glass. It’s all quite intuitive and I think that’s how I work best; responding to each element of the process.
During the first Covid-19 lockdown, I began working more seriously with recycled bottle glass and requesting donations from my friends and neighbours via a note on my front gate. That gave rise to making many more friendships within my own community and a ten-minute interview on my local radio station; a fun experience. Since then, I have made many garden stakes and small structures with the nicer coloured donated glass.
I’m somewhat of a latecomer to the world of art exhibitions and glass sculptures. Although I majored in art at university, I spent most of my working life as a primary school teacher.
Having started evening classes in glasswork 17 years ago, I went on to develop a love for working with this magical material and began the journey of acquiring a kiln, tools and, eventually, my own garden studio.
I exhibited my work for the first time in 2017 with the Select Arts Open Studios and then again in subsequent years. That gave me confidence in myself as an artist and I will be forever grateful for their support.
My journey continues this year with exhibitions at Showborough House, from 5 May to 19 June; Select Arts Open Studios at my home garden and studio on 14, 15, 21 and 22 May; Hook House Open Gardens and Exhibition from 1- 5 June; and Artist in Residence at National Trust, Newark Park, for the month of June.
I recently formed a collaborative with three other local artists and we held our own exhibition and a market stall, which helped to raise over £3,000 for Afghan aid.
Ammonite, Connections and Chris Beckett in her studio
Apart from exhibitions, much of my work has been for private commissions, from crux beam windows to larger internal windows, garden stands and birthday or anniversary pieces.
I really enjoy working on collaborative community pieces when there’s an opportunity to do so and using the money raised to support charity work.
I sometimes reflect on what life might have been like if I had begun an art-based career much earlier in life. My forward journey is filled with hope and the desire to help others to enjoy and contemplate what art can do for the soul.