I am attracted to glass because it is both hefty and brittle, holds space while being translucent. It’s a living form responsive to its environment. It’s incredibly unwieldy and difficult to bend to one’s will or intention. This very stubbornness makes me want to marry my will to it.
Supported by a DYCP Arts Council award I was able to undertake an introduction training in using glass, casting, fusing, blowing, flame working. Moving from ceramic work casting came most naturally. Blowing glass involves a relationship with the furnace and molten glass. It’s fast and requires considerable practice to master.
I want the medium of glass to be of service to my ambition to make pieces about female empowerment.
At home in my studio I made a figure in clay and cast her in 6 litres of casting plaster and fired the cavity in glass. She is has breasts but also holds a phallus. Essentially she is a deity of sorts both male and female.
It’s important to me that my pieces are unequivocally beautiful. Compelling and believable . More than they are , holding symbolic significance.
I have made phallic sculptures since 2003. The first were huge unviable structures in ceramic that fell apart. The next was made in mind of fertility before I had my daughter. ‘A nice girls Willy’ with cherry blossom, the Japanese symbol of fertility painted upon it. I placed a white feather from the opening to represent the egg nourishing seamen.
If you feel squeamish at this point I’d like to direct you to the incredible shrines to fertility where the phallic forms are arranged. These are far from the negative lewd representations of mortal man. The phallus has a different status. Jung also wrote about a women’s phallic strength from this I take the ability to stand tall, take a powerful stance, be commanding.
I have been playing with the ceramic cocks making them as beautiful ( that word again) as I could, crackled, lustred, embossed, engraved, refined and enhanced. Together they do have the sense of something divine.
The glass pieces were an enormous challenge. Commissioning glass master Bailey Shooter, a furnace and two further assistants to wield molten glass into 6 forms.
In other media I can re work my pieces but in this situation we had one attempt at each piece.
The last piece is based on the vulva. In biological drawings there are remarkable similarities around the workings of the male and female genitals, indeed it’s possible to physically transition from one to the other.
I want to feel good about my vulva. I wonder if it could ever be represented in such a way that it holds as much gravitas as the phallus. I thought of the glands within the labial walls swelling and firming on arousal. These gave me my base. The labia I added rose glass to. In further iterations I might add colour as colour changes signify the stages of arousal and orgasm. With a ribbon of molten cream glass I accentuated the clitoral hood . The clitoris and vaginal opening added motifs. The piece weighs 2kg and was the heaviest work we made that day. For me it’s like a trophy I make myself as a 58 year old women whose capacity to experience sexual pleasure, give birth and survive abuse holds a kind of majestic power.