A bit of this, a bit of that…

It has been a tough few months in a lot of ways, so when good stuff happens, we celebrate it! Here at National Glass Centre, it has been brilliant to re-open our doors and say hello to so many of you again. We look forward to welcoming more of you back in the coming weeks – you definitely don’t want to miss your chance to design your own Christmas bauble!

We are also raising a glass this week to Anna Selway, our National Glass Centre intern and one of the Sunderland Culture Creative Development Fellows. Anna has just been awarded 1st prize by the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass in the design only category of the prestigious Stevens architectural glass competition. The Glaziers’ Company is one of the ancient Livery Companies of the City of London, dating from the 14th century, and the Stevens Competition is believed to be the only nationwide competition of its kind, launching the careers of a number of young artists. Anna has kindly given us an insight into the preparation of her winning entry.


I’m fortunate to have been supported by Sunderland Culture in more ways than one. Firstly, I was awarded a Creative Development Fellowship through the Unlock programme to enable me to the enter the Stevens Competition 2020. This competition requires entrants to submit an architectural glass design by responding to a site-specific brief, which this year was for the John Morden Centre in London. This took the form of a large panel for a lightbox to be situated in the reception area of the centre, which provides residential care facilitates.

The usual format is to submit design boards with a sample panel to show how that design manifests in glass, alongside supporting statements and a budget. I was gearing myself up to make my sample panel when the pandemic struck and my studio space became out of bounds. I thought my chance of entering the competition was dashed, but was later thrilled to discover a design only category had been established which didn’t require the physical sample panel. With renewed energy, I set about digitising my design from home. While away from my chosen palette of glass colours, I opted for card collages and tracing paper to allow me to resolve my final design.

Glass Samples

Design Process

Design Process

At first sight this patchwork pattern design appears random, like offcuts of fabric sewn together, but the shapes are sourced from a map of the site. The incorporated coat of arms marks the location of the newly built centre. These design elements were linked to the brief provided.

The absence of a sample panel presented visual communication challenges, such as representing the opacity of different types of glass in the design. To combat this, I decided to create two design boards, one to show the overall scheme and a second to show the design in detail, which would express the different glass qualities in a colour corresponding key.

This week, I was awarded 1st prize in the design only category from The Worshipful Company of Glazier and Painters of Glass for my final design. I attended a virtual prize-giving ceremony, giving me feedback and a chance to see designs from other entrants, including the entrant commissioned to make the actual panel. Next year, the brief is to design a partition screen for a school. I hope to enter as I’m eligible to apply two more times.

In other news, from mid-February this year I started as a Learning and Engagement Intern at National Glass Centre. It was really rewarding to share my practical knowledge of glass and find the best way of communicating this to others. It was especially helpful to shadow various workshop leaders to see what approach was taken to creating positive experiences for visitors. The internship allowed me to gain an insight into the behind the scenes planning of these activities and the teamwork involved. Additionally, I spent some time in the gallery, greeting and engaging with the public. I made some workshop examples for children to spark their ideas, including a fast food inspired tote bag to reference the current exhibition ‘No Strings’.

As someone who takes a stylised approach to working with glass, it was enjoyable to see how young people took to the material. For many of them this was a new opportunity. In one workshop young children decorated pre-cut glass robot outlines with an assortment of glass tiles and glass granules. One of my favourite outcomes was a robot in a football strip, wearing brightly coloured, stripy shorts. In another workshop I assisted teenagers in developing stained glass panels to their own designs.

Unfortunately, this was all halted due to lockdown but I look forward to completing my internship as workshop activities resume, and I’m now a casual member of staff at National Glass Centre as a result of my internship. A big thank you to Sunderland Culture and National Glass Centre staff for these enhancing opportunities.

Feel free to follow me on Instagram (@silvered_streaks) or take a look at previous work on my website. I must admit I’m pretty social media shy but my Instagram page could tell you that! That’s something for me to figure out as I progress in my creative practice.


Many congratulations Anna! We’re delighted to have been able to support you in your #CreativeCareer.

For more career opportunities, available throughout the year, visit Sunderland Culture’s opportunities page. Also, keep an eye out for more blog posts from our first cohort of Creative Development Fellows in the coming weeks! 


Thank you to the Art Fund for its support in helping us re-open safely and welcome visitors back to National Glass Centre.

The Sunderland Creative Development Fellowships were supported through the Unlock strand of Sunderland Culture’s Great Place programme, supported by Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund, and funded by Coastal Communities Fund, a partnership with Sunderland City Council.

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