Two mosaic and glass exhibitions at Canberra Glassworks until 14 August

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Main picture: Annette Blair, Quietly Spoken exhibition, A quiet afternoon in May, 2022. Photo by Brenton McGeachie for Canberra Glassworks

Canberra Glassworks is currently running two exhibitions – Quietly Spoken and On Reflection – showcasing the works of Canberra-based Annette Blair and Sydney-artist Kate Nixon.

Annette Blair is a Canberra Glassworks studio artist, glass blower and sculptor with more than 20 years’ experience of working with hot glass and enamel paints. Also, a glass blower, Kate Nixon has developed her practice around reimagining traditional mosaic techniques within a contemporary context. These two artists offer different flavours of the Australian glass palette.

In her exhibition, Quietly Spoken, Annette Blair creates scenes from daily life by intricately remaking familiar objects in glass. She makes groupings of objects that become vehicles for memory recreating the tools and vessels found in Australian sheds, homes, and backyards. Buckets, paint brushes, sticks, fallen autumn leaves, a milk bottle, a vase of poppies – are crafted in glass, capturing a moment in time that is preserved in our memories. Domestic and utilitarian items are transformed from the mundane to the sublime. This new exhibition includes the major work On any given day, an installation made of 75 hand-sculpted pieces inspired by the old tools and detritus found in the shed out the back. The sepia glass used in this work references the past and nostalgia for a slower, less connected time. It reminds us that glass is a big part of our everyday lives.

Canberra Glassworks – Annette Blair, Quietly Spoken exhibition installation – On any given day, 2022. Photo by Brenton McGeachie for Canberra Glassworks

Meanwhile, Kate Nixon’s On Reflection is a quirky celebration of our daily humdrum but essential routines. Installed in the Smokestack Gallery, Nixon has created an urban wasteland, a back alley where wheelie bins and bags of rubbish are left to out for disposal. However, the waste has been embellished. Nixon has covered every surface with tiny mirrors to create a disco ball finish.

Kate Nixon, On Reflection exhibition installation – On Reflection, 2022. Photo by Brenton McGeachie for Canberra Glassworks.

Humour and extravagance can also be seen in this work, and her cheeky objects carve out space for a dialogue on waste, depravity, and social history. By combining the two contradictory worlds oftraditional mosaic techniques with glorious glitter of the ‘Age of Disco’ Nixon has quite literally turned the trash into treasure.

Kate Nixon – On reflection

Australian mosaic artist Kate Butler visited the exhibitions on their opening night she told Mosaic & Glass: “Kate Nixon’s work, a mosaic installation, is quirky, layered with meanings and challenges the viewer’s ‘preconceived notions of preciousness and domestic obligations’. To my knowledge, this is the first time mosaics have been shown at Canberra Glassworks. Here, in Australia, the medium is very misunderstood and looked down at by the art world’s gatekeepers. So, this is a real achievement.”

The exhibitions were curated by Canberra Glassworks Artistic Director, Aimee Frodsham.

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