This year’s Glass Nexus Forum saw a multitude of artists, speakers, demonstrators and glass enthusiasts embark on the small coastal village of Lybster in the North East of Scotland.
North Lands Creative hold their Glass Nexus Forum annually. The event is designed to bring together likeminded individuals within the field of glass, inspiring all through insightful lectures and thrilling demonstrations. This year the team at North Lands wanted to create an event that allowed the local community to experience and enjoy what the annual Glass Nexus Forum brings to us in the industry, and so the Highland Fling Festival was born.
On the day before the weekend’s events were due to kick off, high winds and torrential rain cloaked Lybster and stalled the set up operations. After months of preparations and planning the Highland Fling Festival had to be cancelled due to safety. It was a hard call to make but a wise one, I for one would not have enjoyed being in a huge marquee with strong winds and rain battering the canvas!
Despite the weather and the unfortunate cancelled of the festival attractions the demonstrations during Glass Nexus Forum saw the highest rate of local visitors North Lands has ever seen.
North Lands Creative is an international centre for glass making and education. Its reputation within the glass industry is known worldwide so it was no surprise that the demonstrations within glassblowing and flameworking were simply incredible. It’s safe to say that the individuals working with the material of glass show a level of camaraderie, appreciation and understanding that is universal. There is no bias to age, gender or origin.
Having been involved with glass for a while now, I am fortunate to interact with the material on a frequent basis, but for the local community who rarely get the opportunity to watch the processes and witness the behaviours of glass, the Forum weekend provided that bridge. It’s wonderful for the big red doors of the hotshop to open and welcome everyone, not just those in the industry.
As one of North Lands Creative’s Associate Artists for 2019/20, I had the enviable job of assisting many of the demonstrating artists within the hotshop. It wouldn’t be entirely truthful to call the hours I spent over the weekend work. I had a pretty damn brilliant weekend and in all honesty, it was an unforgettable opportunity to work with so many talented glassmakers in the same place and within those 48 hours.
Alongside the continuous flow of glass demonstrations there were back-to-back lectures and presentations from some of the best known in the industry. From an academic professional from down under to a designer from Murano to a museum curator from a little closer to home, the lectures talked through current issues and projects relevant in the industry today.
So now comes to thanks, I can’t give enough appreciation to the team at North Lands who held together such a wonderful event despite the unwelcome weather! For those of us who turn up to experience the planned events over the allotted time and scheduling, we see very little of the preparatory work, organisation and hard graft that goes into, not only of the setting up of an occasion like the Glass Nexus Forum (and Highland Fling Festival), but also the take down after we’ve all gone home. This year was the first time I truly saw and understood the level of work that is required for an event like this, so I think that’s why the feeling of appreciation and success runs a little deeper this year than last.
Lastly, it goes without saying that it wouldn’t have been the same without all the speakers and demonstrators. Thank you all for sharing your knowledge, experiences and skills. Thank you for travelling to the North East of Scotland and embracing the culture and ever-changing weather of Caithness. Thank you to everybody’s contribution, all equally playing a role in making this year’s Forum one of the most enthralling and eye-opening that North Lands Creative has ever held. I don’t know if it can be topped but see you next year?