A glass act with a clear message

Updated: 2014-07-13 07:09

By Wu Yiyao in Shanghai (China Daily)

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The Keep It Glassy exhibition makes glass' artistic value crystal clear.

The more than 200 pieces created by over 50 designers from more than 20 countries started with the concept of "serious" and turned it on its head to show the wild side of the art form that has long struggled to gain acceptance beyond that of craft.

Co-curator and art director of the Shanghai Museum of Glass Tilman Thurmer points out the venue has become known as a "serious" destination but the establishment would like to show the genre's other side - that is, its fun and unpredictability.

"Glass art is not only a serious matter," Thurmer says.

"(The process of) glass-making also conveys genuine and uncomplicated fun with this extraordinary material - trying and trying again to come to exactly the right design, or sometimes an unplanned mistake turning out to be a brilliant glass design."

The exhibition is divided into four sections.

The Supernormal shows everyday objects, such as a beer bottle. The Pun and the Fun is meant to entice guffaws with such exhibits as wine bottles crawling up the walls. Art in Design shows glass' functional strengths, such as to support a chair.

Cheers to That is not merely a bar but aspires to inspire visitors to crave a drink with a plethora of bottles and glasses on a table.

Mexican artist Andres Basurto created glass skulls.

"From a distance the skulls look threatening, but their mosaic surface and the exotic modeling lure visitors to approach to have a closer look," Thurmer says.

Catch is a glass lamp by US artist Lindsey Adelman in which melted glass was blown from brass links to dribble to form a bulb.

Dutch artist Ellen Urselmann's Surreal Section Glasses changes colors when viewers change positions. Her White Balloons nods to life's fragility, while Pump With Glass Bell references tensions between the future and the past through the theme of expansion and collapse.

"All the works are playful and challenge your understanding of glass as a material - they go much further beyond what you know about glass, which may only appear as a double glazing, salad bowls, red wine glass and light bulbs at home," visitor Matthias Muller says.

His favorite work is a pair of green chairs made of beer bottles.

"They look compact, smooth, graceful with strength," Muller says.

The exhibition is co-curated by Coordination Asia and the Shanghai Museum of Glass. As the only museum that is devoted to the art, history, craft, innovation and many other aspects of glass in the city, it also hosts workshops and do-it-yourself programs for visitors to try their talent as glassblowers. Children can paint on glass at the DIY workshop.

"It's my first time to witness how a chunk of red-hot, dough-like glass can turn into a beautiful jar, and I feel so excited when I complete the piece," says Zhu Liqiang, a 40-year-old visitor who recently finished his first work - a pumpkin-shaped sugar jar.


Shanghai Museum of Glass

685 Changjiang Xilu (West Road), Baoshan district, Shanghai.

9:30 am-5 pm, until Aug 30, except Mondays; 5 pm-9 pm Saturdays.

Admission: 60 yuan ($10) (including the 50 yuan admission for main halls).




 A glass act with a clear message

US artist Lindsey Adelman presents a glass lamp titled Catch. Provided to China Daily

(China Daily 07/13/2014 page9)