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City’s First Ever European Glass Prize Opens This Weekend

Sunderland’s National Glass Centre opens its first European Glass Prize exhibition this weekend.

The exhibition opens on Saturday (October 16) and will feature the work of more than 40 artists working across Europe.

The artworks on display have been selected by a panel of distinguished judges including Sandra Blach, Exhibitions Officer at Glasmuseet Ebeltoft in Denmark; Reino Liefkes, Senior Curator and Head of Ceramics and Glass at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and National Glass Centre’s own Head of Arts Julia Stephenson.

Supported by the Weston Culture Fund, the exhibition includes work by artists from France, Sweden, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Romania, The Netherlands, The Czech Republic, Estonia and Belgium, as well as England, Scotland and Wales.

The exhibition showcases techniques and approaches including using found and mixed media, casting, hot glass, kiln forming, engraving, neon and video. It includes artists working at all career stages from internationally acknowledged masters to relative newcomers.

There is a competitive element to the NGC Glass Prize – with three cash prizes awarded:  a First Prize of £3,000; a Second Prize of £1,500, and a Third Prize of £1,000.

Julia said: “As a national organisation, it is essential our artistic programme operates on an international level, creating dialogue with global organisations by presenting the best of British glass to the world and bringing the best of international glass to Britain.

“A European Glass Prize exhibition allows us to achieve this aim in one show and it creates an opportunity to bring together artists from a number of countries to share approaches and to inspire new practice. It also seems like an important time to celebrate the diverse approach artists are taking in working with glass across a number of nations. Britain has a brilliant community of artists working in glass, but maintaining international dialogue is essential for future growth.

“The idea of holding a European Glass Prize at National Glass Centre was first discussed in Spring last year, at a point when we believed that the pandemic would be over within a few months. Our team agreed curating a strong group show would provide an important step in coming out of lockdown by creating opportunities for as many artists as possible. The longer the pandemic lasted the more this seemed to be the case.

“We were extremely fortunate in securing funding from the Garfield Weston Foundation which has allowed us to deliver this exhibition – we received 273 applications and the standard was incredible.

“To mention a few of the artists, Emma Woffenden’s piece shows mastery of composition; Andrea Walsh’s work is sublime; Maria Bang Espersen’s submission combines freshness with mastery of technique and Zac Weinberg encapsulates a joy associated with Heath Robinson.

“It is an important exhibition for us and we’re proud to be hosting the NGC Glass Prize.”

The exhibition closes on March 13 next year.

For more information, go to www.nationalglasscentre.com

Image credit: Edmond Byrne & Adi Toch, Untitled, 2020 Photograph: Agata Pec