Catherine Forsyth and Helen Pailing

24 September 2022 – 12 March 2023
Research Gallery

Catherine Forsyth and Helen Pailing were awarded bursaries to develop new work as part of the NGC Glass Prize. This exhibition presents their research to date.

The NGC Glass Prize was funded by the Garfield Weston Foundation through the Weston Culture Fund.

Garfield Weston Foundation logo

Statement from Helen Pailing on her work

During the pandemic, we were frequently advised against coming into close contact with others. I had my first baby in 2020 and a second in 2021, so it has felt like a paradoxical situation for me as I have never before had so much skin-to-skin contact with others.

It has been fascinating to see the tiny hairs on my babies as I watch them grow. This led me to think more deeply about how hairs are the receptors to convey touch sensation. Making hairs out of glass, that break when touched, became a way to start exploring ‘matrescence’ – the physical, psychological and emotional changes that occur during the process of becoming a mother – during this extraordinary time in my life. The work makes reference to rituals and mementos, and seeks to acknowledge moments that are both precious and often precarious.

As well as space and time to focus on my practice, the bursary allowed me the opportunity to flamework with Zoe Garner, have regular mentoring sessions with Helen Maurer, visit Collect art fair in London and work with musician Marc Rigelsford, with whom I collaborated to make the short film ‘Transition’. Thank you to Glass and Ceramics students Hannah Masi and Hannah Peverley for their assistance.

Statement from Catherine Forsyth on her work

My aim in starting these works was to investigate the emotional and physical impact of my cancer diagnosis in 2018. This event altered my notion of self, it changed who I was. How could I convey this feeling? How could I capture it in my work? That was my starting point.

Through the reflective qualities of dark glass I want the viewer to see themselves as altered. I used black glass due its long history of divination. These dark mirrors known as witches mirrors, black mirrors or scrying mirrors were said to be used to see into the future, look back to the past, to converse with the dead and to seek and show truth.

My mirrors only reflect what is in front of them. Your image in the mirror reflects the chaos, disassociation and uneasiness that can take over when life has been manipulated and distorted by unexpected events be it an illness, an accident or a loss. We are changed forever.

Where there is darkness there also must be light and joy. The Claude mirror was a device used by artists to observe more singularly tonal and hence more truthful reflections. My landscapes are trapped within the Claude mirror, moments of beauty, memories of place reminding us that life is both joyful and beautiful.

Stay connected with National Glass Centre Instagram Twitter Facebook