Here in Lybster, Caithness, North Lands Creative is a global studio. We work closely with our associate, residency, scholarship, intern and class leader artists, along with an expanding network of global talent who all contribute to enhancing our capability for producing a remarkable experience for those who visit.
We’re gearing up for what we hope will be an even better year ahead, but before we ring in the bells and welcome 2020, lets take a moment to look back and be thankful for all the opportunities, connections and inspiration that 2019 brought.
A huge thank you to everyone who made this year possible and help make North Lands Creative what it is today, a unique organisation which allows artists to re-think and re-imagine their practice and provide much needed time to breathe, unplug and tap into the natural surroundings. We are proud that North Lands Creative continues to go from strength to strength.
We hope you enjoy some of the highlights from our year at here North Lands Creative, 2019.
January continued with our second Winter Open Exhibition.
We celebrated the success of our award from the European Social Fund ‘Aspiring Communities Fund’ to support two new full-time posts to spearhead our ‘Community Design House’ project.
Then came our country-wide pit stop tour of the UK with our wonderful Programme Executive Joanna Garrett visiting an amazing variety of studios and artists, highlighting the exceptional dedication and talent of the UK glass community and also taking in the demonstrations at the Messums Glass Festival.
February brought the news that our ‘Origin’ project was one of 16 projects selected for the Scotland – Europe 2019/20 British Council Scotland/ Creative Scotland Fund. Artist Emma Baker and designer Alberto Lago were chosen to represent the collaboration between two glassmaking centres of excellence North Lands Creative and Scuola Del Vetro Abate Zanetti.
This month also saw the first sessions of our Community Ambassador Programme and the beginning of an amazing array of community local arts programming at the studio.
2019 has been another year of firsts. In March we celebrated our first Imagining Sustainable Glass Network Europe residencies funded under the Creative Europe Program and welcomed Romanian artist Alexandra Muresan and BÜRO FAMOS German designers Hanna Litwin and Romin Heide for a four-week AiR opportunity at the studio. We launched our first Technical Internship – offering Sunderland University graduate Emma Goring to learn the ‘ins and outs’ of running and maintaining a studio and using this knowledge to build her own mini furnace.
And the team even had time to continue our advocacy work and build new alliances. Michael Bullen delivered a Glass Painting & Restoration workshop at the Art Academy of Latvia in Riga and our Director Karen Phillips represented North Lands Creative in Glasgow as a MAKE champion supporting the MAKE campaign a manifesto for Craft in Scotland.
In April, The Radcliffe Trust, one of Britain’s oldest charities, founded in 1714 by the will of Dr John Radcliffe awarded a grant for our 2019-21 class programme to support the development and practice of skills, knowledge and experience that underpin the UK’s heritage and crafts sector. A ‘Mind Full of Glass’ solo exhibition celebrated the work of local artist, Ian Pearson, scientific glass-blower and Chair of Society of Caithness Artists.
Also a proud month where we travelled to Edinburgh to take part at the Director’s meeting of Scotland’s Workshops, a network of extraordinary spaces for making art. From sculpture to printmaking, photography and glassmaking, the 11 organisations that make up Scotland’s Workshops have a huge amount of experience built up over decades since their creation began in the 1960s. They represent the very practical reality of artistic production in Scotland. It was a pleasure to work with Karen Shaw and Tracey Kelly from Vis-à-Vis Agency to realise the network ambitions.
This month also saw the launch of our own membership scheme.
“The blue and waveless ocean, dotted here and there with a white sail; and in the far distance the outline of the hills of Caithness stood out sharp and defined against the cloudless sky. As I neared the sea, and caught a fuller view of the coast, the whole of the Moray Firth opened before me in a panorama scarcely to be surpassed on British shores”
‘The Fisher’s Widow’, Littell’s Living Age, 1848.
Our remote corner of north-east Scotland features starkly contrasting landscapes and has been an inspiration to glass artists for decades and continues to be so.
As we look back at 2019, with an abundance of big projects to choose from, the very busy month of May particularly stood out for us. Summer had come early.
Louis Thompson’s ‘The Glassmakers’ Orchestra’ class summed up the atmosphere that ran throughout this month,
‘a magical symphony, fluid and full of rhythm and nuances that tells a story…’
Another super month of opportunities and achievements, Calum Dawes, recipient of the Bette & Michael Rogers Scholarship, Natalie Nadeau and Stephen Paul Day our International AiR artists, Bailey Shooter, Summer Technical Intern, the Community Ambassador Graduation with an inaugural exhibition, a studio BBQ. Wrapping up the month with magical rays of light with the participation of school children between Lybster Primary and Scuola Del Vetro Abate Zanetti, exploring the early work by Bruno Munar in our ‘Virtually There’ workshops.
Behind the scenes planning continued with our limited edition product line with our associate artist Emma Baker and the photography of Angus Mackay.
“RED…is the fiercest note, it is the highest light, it is the place where the walls of this world of ours wear the thinnest and something beyond burns through.”
G.K. Chesterton on ‘The Spiral Jetty’, 1972.
June saw seven vibrant projects. It was the month to explore open borders, freedom of expression and creative pluralism. The North Lands team and associate artist Emma Baker headed to Murano to Scuola Del Vetro Abate Zanetti with the inspiration undertones coming from the colour of red from the furnaces.
On the ‘Origin’ project no restricting, didactic agenda was prepared. Instead, the principle of ‘invitation’ was paramount in celebrating the community of glass between two cultures and two artists invited to collaborate in each other’s country.
Back in Lybster, Jeff Zimmer ‘Certainty and Doubt’ glass painting class explored a range of techniques inspired from the landscape close to the studio. We received the news of funding support from the E.ON community Camster Fund and Trusthouse Foundation for our local arts programming. We welcomed our sixth AiR with the GEN network graduate Natsuki Katsukawa (Japan) and our first filmmaker in residency call out introduced us to Scottish filmmaker Thomas Hogben for our second British Council Scotland project of 2019, Glass, Meet The Future.
And if that wasn’t enough our new atelier & restoration service got off to an amazing start with a private restoration project with Ackergill Castle outside Wick.
JULY we celebrated our local communities and Scottish glass.
The wonderful community benefit funds in Caithness enable us to deliver our local arts programming and outreach work.
EOn Camster Community Fund supported our Community Design House and Summer Youth Glass Festival, a very big thank you to our Community Ambassadors who volunteered their time to work on this project.
The Lybster & Tannach Community Benefit Fund enabled us to acquire our very own mobile mini-melt furnace.
In our Quatre Bras Gallery, we were delighted to support the 40th anniversary of the Scottish Glass Society by hosting their 2019 juried exhibition On the Edge curated by Sarah Rothwell, Curator, Modern & Contemporary Design, Department of Art & Design, National Museums Scotland.
Today, across Scotland, glass artists and makers are continuing to challenge our perception of the possibilities of glass as an artistic medium. On the Edge brought together the work of 18 members exploring the stress lines between historical concepts and contemporary ideology, creating works that revaluate our understanding of this medium.
Gregory Alliss, Carolyn Basing, Catherine Carr, Hannah Gibson, Siobhan Healy, Jessamy Kelly, Alison Kinnaird, Pinkie Maclure, Brett Manley, Inge Panneels, Lauren Puckett, Annica Sandstrom and David Kaplan, Cathryn Shilling, Amanda Simmons, Moonju Suh, Laura Turner and Rosheen Young.
Our AUGUST overview is a mere scattering of what went on during the busiest month on campus – even still, there are no words to sum up quite how phenomenal it was.
We paid tribute to our Founding Patrons and Members with a special Dan Klein Memorial Lecture kindly introduced by Iain & Bunty Gunn and a solo retrospective exhibition by Denis Mann “A Lifetime of Adventures’.
The presence of artists within a community can, through their approachability as people, help demystify the artistic experience which, though sometimes forbidding in prospect, can be exhilarating for those ready for it” – Robert Maclennan, Founding Patron.
The August programme told an extraordinary story of two parts.
PART I our first Filmmaker AiR, Tom Hogben and the production of Martin Janecky film for our British Council Scotland, Glass Meet the Future Film Festival Project to be premiered in Toyama, Japan in May 2020.
PART II our students and guests were exposed to such a large volume of contemporary glass through lectures and demonstrations within the truly magnificent framework of our forum and class programme and it was such a rewarding experience for both guests and staff – and a reminder that North Lands Creative is a truly remarkable and special organisation.
As we continue a programme of excellence in glass education at North Lands Creative, everything we have learned and absorbed during this year can fuel next steps. It has enhanced our understanding of the current international dialogue and has made us extremely excited about what can be achieved. The sense of possibility is the feeling we have been left with most – in terms of strengthening our roots, and what’s gone before, but perhaps most importantly, what can be done to shape and define our future.
We would like to pay tribute to our stunning array of contributors to our summer programme-
Classes by William Gudenrath, ‘An introduction to Venetian Techniques’ and Eric Goldschmidt, ‘Flame worked Borosilicate Goblets’ with the Bette & Michael Rogers scholarship awarded to Natsuki Katsukawa (Japan).
Forum artists & speakers – Emma Baker, David Barry, Michael Bullen, Annie Cattrell, Matt Durran, Carrie Fertig, Dr Jane Gavan, Eric Goldschmidt, William Gudenrath, Martin Janecky, Natsuki Katsukawa, Irene Kernan, Alberto Lago, Peter Layton, Bruce Marks, James Maskrey, Alexandra Muresan, Ondrej Novotny, Hardeep Pandhal, Ian Pearson, Liam Reeves, Frederik Rombach, Liam Reeves, Julie Ross, Sarah Rothwell, Stefano Schiavon, Tyron Sheppard, Bailey Shooter, Louis Thompson, Claire Wilson and Jeff Zimmer.
September was a busy time in the hot shop our atelier commissions were underway again, we were privileged to undertake the making of new bowls for the future Mastermind trophies with the exceptional skill of Emma Baker assisted by our atelier intern Tyron Sheppard from Bristol Blue. And realise a project with Tramway with artist Hardeep Pandhal for his forthcoming multimedia exhibition ‘Confessions of a Thug: Pakiveli’ from 25th January – 22nd March 2020.
Then back to the blue skies for The Venice Glass Week and development meetings for our future programme collaborations.
Our significant class programme came to a close with Bruno Romanelli “Into the Light’, with scholarship opportunities sponsored by The Radcliffe Trust and Bullseye Glass Co.
It’s rare to go on a course where the tutor is a true master, is able to teach well and is always pleasant helpful and fun. Where the staff are lovely, the food is amazing, the scenery is stunning, the learning outcomes far exceed your wildest expectations, where its action packed with wonderful experiences, where everyone gets on really well and where meaningful friendships and connections are made. But that is what happened! And since this was my first experience of North Lands Creative I hope to be back again very soon. – Fiona Rew
I was delighted by the opportunity to attend a ten-day workshop at North Lands Creative this Autumn, “Into the Light” with Bruno Romanelli, thanks to a generous scholarship from Bullseye Glass Co. Patience doesn’t always come easily for me, therefore much of the appeal of coming to North Lands was to slow down and escape into another world- far from the often-stressful pace of London where I am currently working and studying. The experience made me realise how my artistic practice could benefit from a more considered or “polished” approach- both figuratively and literally. Each minute that is absorbed by the moulding, firing, and then polishing process of glass- from the coarsest to the finest grit- eventually proves worthwhile. Paying closer attention to the details and giving each step of the process the time that it requires is essential and rewarding. – Gosia Pawlowska
October was a development month exploring opportunities with the British Council Scotland briefing on links to the Sub Saharan sector and we welcomed Dr Diane Pennington from Strathclyde University supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise Interface to initiate our plans to preserve our North Lands Creative collection of artist catalogues, sketch books and paper work including a collection of books donated by Dan Klein & Alan J Poole.
Community Design House project continued with an exhibition of youth art & photography in collaboration with the Latheron, Lybster & Clyth Community Development Company at our Quatre Bras Gallery.
Back on the plane, this time we headed to Dublin to support our Imagining Sustainable Glass Network Europe partner the National College of Art & Design, Dublin and the wonderful Caroline Madden for the launch of the Ireland Glass Biennale which seeks to present and provoke international perspectives, explorations and manifestations of glass as creative expression. Our trip also took in a visit to the Chester Beatty and National Museum of Ireland for the Biennale associated programme and symposium where we saw the moving exhibition from Co Antrim Glass Artist Alison Lowry ‘(A) Dressing Our Hidden Truths’ described as Lowry’s “ground-breaking, artistic response to Ireland’s Magdalene laundries, mother and baby homes and industrial schools”.
During November Irish artist Sophie Longwill explored new locations, different cultures, and experimented with different materials on our Dual AiR with Berlin Glas, e.V. The Imagining Sustainable Glass Network Europe AiR’s are often aimed at emerging artists and can end up having a long-term impact on their life and work. We also welcomed to the studio Elizar Milev (Bulgaria) onto the Solo ISGNE AiR and Flora de Beechi (Scotland) undertook her Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) residency award.
All these opportunities allow our visiting artists to enter into an immersive space so that the artistic process can develop and thrive. The remote residency location is a unique, stunning, and sometimes a challenging environment, where we encourage artists to draw inspiration from place and take advantage of the solitude (and presence), that the surrounding environment provides.
Our Winter Internship, Japanese artist and graduate from Sunderland University, Natsumi Jones, interests are in the fragility, reflectivity and the ephemeral quality of glass and combining this with participatory art.
Throughout the month we ran introductory courses in kiln forming, bead making, glass blowing and lampworking with artists Ian Pearson, Emma Baker, Emma Nightingale Glass and Sally Sutherland. Scotland’s Workshops Week sought to draw attention to the rich and diverse activity happening all year round which underpins contemporary art production in Scotland.
We encourage and welcome community engagement; North Lands Creative has an intimate relationship to the community of Lybster, and places emphasis on collaboration of all kinds. We encourage artists of all métiers, both emerging and professional, to join us with a sense of curiosity and drive to connect with this special place as part of a personal experience and artistic development.
Not for me, not for you, but for us North Lands Creative is growing our collective purpose beyond a narrow model of participation towards a model of co-creation.
December saw the start of our Imagining Sustainable Glass Network Europe documentary commission with filmmaker Tom Hogben visiting Cluj Napoca, Romania, Nový Bor and Prague, Czech Republic, Murano, Italy, Sunderland and Plymouth, UK.
A huge thank you to all our supporters who kindly donated to our Silent Auction to raise funds for new wheel engraving equipment for our cold working room.
And we said our goodbyes to our wonderful General Manager, Lorna MacMillan.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for supporting us in 2019 and we hope you can join us next year.
MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR from Team North Lands.
Karen, Lorna, Laura, Michael, Jo & Chelsea.
We reopen on the 6th January 2020.