I was extremely fortunate to be awarded the Bette and Michael Rogers Scholarship for Louis Thompson’s Class ‘The Glass Makers’ Orchestra’ at North Lands Creative. I am incredibly grateful for the very generous donation/scholarship which allowed me to attend this class. I can wholeheartedly say that this class has affected the way in which I try to approach my creative practice now.
The week began with a creative exercise just to get people thinking, working together and allowing us to get to know each other and how we work. We put on short presentations about our various practices, we also had brief chats with Louis and James about our intentions for the week, what we wanted or expected from it. I found this very helpful, because of the open-ended brief of the class I had decided to come with as open a mind as possible and so this little talk helped me decide on my intensions for the week.
Throughout the week we were encouraged to sketch, design and execute pieces collaboratively, exchange idea and skills freely, often swapping roles with other students. If you were more used to making, maybe letting someone else take responsibility for that, freeing you to focus solely on creative decisions. In my case making for others, meaning I could focus solely on the problem-solving aspect of glassblowing, figuring out how we could produce the drawings of another students in glass. I found this immensely freeing as giving up control of one aspect allows you to focus more intently on another.
It was definitely the class as a whole which made the week incredible. One of the other students used chiselling, hammering and deforming glass while hot on the iron in his practice. Another was more interested in colour and pattern, some came to the class with very specific ideas, or technique they wanted to explore. This made for an amazing dynamic: everyone had come from different skill levels, with different backgrounds and intentions but were all really open to just being free and enjoying the process. I really enjoyed watching others try the cane drawing technique i’d been using for most of my current work, it was exciting to see someone watch me do something then immediately want to try it. This resulted in a collaborative pair of pieces where we both swapped our usual techniques. One, I drew on and he broke and reassembled. The other he drew on and I then did his part. The class are still in touch with one another and we are currently organising to work together again in the near future.
Towards the end of the week we all had the opportunity to work with Louis, James and any further assistants we needed in order to execute more advanced ideas we had been developing together up to that point. They went out of their way to make sure we all had very equal amounts of attention and development time with them, they were fantastic teachers, with a massively varied and accomplished skillset between them.
To finish the week off they organised for a photographer to come in and take pictures of all the work we had made that week and spoke to us about applying for scholarships, residencies etc., and the importance of good photography for these purposes.
Outside of the studio itself the experience was also fantastic, we went on trips most evenings, either to beautiful places local to North Lands or lovely places to eat. A particular highlight was Whaligoe Steps, the food was incredible, the location is absolutely stunning and the hosts are most lovely. We were blessed with beautiful weather all week, and it felt as much as a holiday as it did a class.
I came for this class quite close to the hand in of my final years work, and as such for several months previously has been very focused on the kind of work I was producing for that. The nature of this class forced me to broaden my focus, invite other people into the creative process, and I found it both very instructive on what’s possible with a team as well as very cathartic at that point in the year. In the end I was so pleased with the work I had done with my classmates and with the tutors that it made up at least half of my final year show.