collect 2020 origin stories

north lands creative returns to collect

North Lands Creative returns to Collect, the international art fair for modern craft and design, from Thursday 27 February – Sunday 1 March 2020. For 2020, Collect is moving to an iconic new home in the heart of London, Somerset House. Organised by the Crafts Council, Collect welcomes over 14,000 visitors including International galleries, artists and collectors. Visitors can experience an insightful programme of events, tours and free talks.


North Lands Creative at Collect 2020 celebrates the outstanding British and International creativity in glass. All the artists have a connection to our Alastair Pilkington Studio and the work has been inspired by their immersive time on our artist in residence programme or as a collaborative process from our associate artist projects. Our 2020 Collect artists are Emma Baker (UK), Alberto Lago (Italy), James Maskrey (UK), Alexandra Muresan (Romania), Laura Quinn (Ireland) and Martin Janecky (Czech). Authenticity is at the heart of our work. Centred around a core belief in conservation, education and sustainability of the art form, North Lands Creative has an outstanding reputation for facilitating individual and corporate commissions of contemporary art, design and craft pieces and offers an immersive special experience for collectors. Our commissioning service and the work for sale in our gallery reflects a global trend, with increasingly discerning collectors searching out objects of beauty and substance against a flowering of craftsmanship worldwide. We bridge iconic heritage and contemporary design as well as supporting independent artists to tell their stories.


Our programme aims to attract a broad audience united in their appreciation of imagination, individuality, passion and skill for contemporary studio glass. A curated programme of events annually allows visitors to meet our artists and gain access to exclusive exhibitions, demonstrations and workshops. Karen Phillips, Director of North Lands Creative said: “With its mix of ingenuity and imagination, North Lands Creative has always been a meeting point for historicism and modernity in glass. Our stand at Collect 2020 bridges the two by offering fresh insights into the historic techniques of glass whilst pioneering new thinking on the medium. I think being an artist anywhere is a courageous thing to be. But being a glass artist, where you have limited structure to support you, is probably even braver. You definitely have to have a strong entrepreneurial vision. Often artists have limited access to facilities and further training after graduating. A studio like North Lands Creative provides valuable equipment and support and due to its remoteness visiting artists are really influenced by their context”.



collect 2020

In 2020 the gallery will represent the work of Martin Janecky (Czech), Emma Baker (UK), Laura Quinn (Ireland), Alberto Lago (Italy), Alexandra Muresan (Romania) and James Maskrey (UK). The history of glass is full of ‘origin stories’: stories of how and where glass began. North Lands Creative at Collect 2020 takes this as a starting-pointing for the six artists exhibiting, each exploring a fundamental component of contemporary glass blowing. 


The Future of Making – Tradition to Liberation and how the artists have each broken the mould by creating ground-breaking work which sees traditional techniques evolving. How does the glass community start to create a new language and support the freedom of artists, makers and curators to break the conventions around tradition. Guiding the creative process for glass blowing, North Lands Creative uses the studio and gallery as a freespace for people to gather and exchange, with new networks emerging, new possibilities taking shape and achieve a global dialogue that can weave through gender, social politics and sustainability. The exhibition will be playful, witty and provocative, Origins asks us to look again at the myths, conventions and histories that guide how glass is created and experienced. My perspective as Director in running North Lands Creative and the studio gallery is very curatorial. As a national charity our income goes directly into helping build a stronger glass community, which benefits many artists and crafts makers globally so events like Collect we need to still think like commercial galleries but the difference is the artists benefit directly from that success. We are very interested in discovering artists and so, having been doing this for over two decades now, we exhibit artists from the contemporary emerging, mid-career to masters of the craft. Having begun to represent artists at various points during this period, it is obvious that we have grown together and that those that would have been considered ‘emerging’ then are working their way towards ‘established’ now.


We see our relationships with artists as similar concentric circles. Residency and associate artists are core artists, those at the centre of the circle. We work together and communicate constantly, and we are at their service. Then there are others with whom we have a relationship, but do not currently work on a project with us. We are very active off-site curators, our location on the periphery of mainland Scotland dictates that we do not have high footfall at the gallery but a strong international collectors base. 


Attending Collect 2020 was devised as partly a response to the needs of collectors – to show work in a considered fashion and in a spectacular location; and partly a response to artists – to show work in a high profile, large scale show, but which is not restricted by the limitation of a booth stand. We are constantly identifying and working with new artists, and depending on how things develop, an artist from a particular project can often transfer into another project, sometimes even becoming an associate artist. Likewise, our audience might also come over from one project to another. 


Our target audience is primarily collectors but also the craft world audience generally. In terms of the positioning of our gallery in relation to others, with a cursory glance it might appear that we run a traditional model. As a gallery in itself this is true, but combined with the other projects it can be considered a far more complicated, multi project that emphasises curation, ambition, hard and dedicated work, lateral thinking and collaboration – and in collaboration we mean with other curators, other galleries, arts organisations artists, and collectors. It is important that the main ingredient – the artwork itself – has a relevance to contemporary practice as well as a potential resonance with the audience (collector). 


My mission is to find like-minded artists to pair with like-minded collectors, with like-minded gallerist / curator as the fulcrum. I search for authentic artists that are engaged wholly with their internal critical model. As someone who took the route to being a director/ curator by studying design at degree level and then fine art at masters, I have a profound understanding of what it is to be an artist. And so I am perhaps unusually equipped to relate to the struggle of making work (and in fact still make work myself). I am open to all mediums (but perhaps have the deepest affiliation with crafts and of course in my current role I have fallen in love with glass), and I respond to work with strong content. 


I am interested in horror and beauty; the sublime; the psychological and psychoanalytical; magic and mythology; sexuality – that which is concerned with the big human themes. Just as I look for authenticity in the artist I also look for an authentic, instinctive reaction in myself when attending work, and even if one of our shows looks varied visually, by considering these subjects the sense of cohesion becomes quickly apparent. And so, the above must be considered the key factor at the beginning point in a relationship with an artist. From there I will look for consistency and professionalism, and there is an element of needing to be able to work together in terms of personality as well. I am not looking for a difficult artist or a lazy artist. I’m looking for an individual that can continue relationships and work in a climate of mutual respect and trust. And these relationships can only be maintained with honesty, integrity and progress. And so there must be drive, ambition and commitment on both sides.

emma baker

Emma Baker is a glass artist living and working in the UK. In 2019 she became one of two Associate Artists at North Lands Creative, a two-year programme supporting & developing the practice of glass artists. Her work is held in public & private collections and has been shown across the UK & Ireland. Most recently, she has received scholarship funding to the USA and worked on international projects supported by British Council Scotland and Creative Europe. Specialising as a glassmaker, her love of the material and its processes combined with narrative and sentiment embodies her artistic practice.

Martin Janecký

Martin Janecký, born 29 February 1980, began working with glass at the age of thirteen at his father’s factory in the Czech Republic. After graduating from the Glass School in Nový Bor he gained experiences in South Africa, Sweden, the Netherlands, and chiefly in the US, where he studied at the Pilchuck Glass School under Richard Royal and William Morris. Among his most recognized strengths is an ability to master the glass moulding technology of so-called blowing and sculpting “inside the bubble”, a technique used to create startling original works. Martin Janecky is considered to be one of the best glass sculptors working today. He has exhibited his artwork in galleries and museums all over the world.

alberto lago

Alberto Lago is a Designer & Social Artist from Venice (Italy). His educational background range from architecture, engineering, carpentry and design. He has lived and worked in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Stuttgart, Milan and Venice. Alberto has exhibited his works worldwide and won numerous international awards. He has also published in various design/graphic magazines and scientific journals.

james maskrey

James Maskrey has a career in hot glass spanning over 25 years. He has exhibited widely internationally and has been recognised for his own work with inclusion in many public and private collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Crafts Council. 


He has a passion for teaching and for the dissemination of glass skills and has led masterclasses throughout Europe. He currently works for the University of Sunderland at the National Glass Centre as a technical demonstrator/instructor and facilitator for artist projects

alexandra mursan

Alexandra Muresan is a young glass artist and lecturer at the Ceramic and Glass Department within the University of Art and Design, Cluj-Napoca. In 2013 Alexandra was awarded the Jutta-Cuny Franz Memorial Award for glass. Her pieces have been exhibited in several shows in Cluj, Bistrița, Bucharest, Warsaw, Berlin, Lybster, Bornholm, Prague, Plzen, Bergen or Rome. Alexandra is also a Philosophy graduate at the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca. Her studies in philosophy had a considerable impact on her creative thought process and resulted in her developing a deeper understanding and perception of art and aesthetics.

laura quinn

Laura Quinn is a glassblower and designer.  In 2015 she graduated from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin with a joint BA (hons) in Glass Design and Art and Design History.  After graduating she completed glassblowing internships in the Corning Museum of Glass, New York and Estonia.


During this time her work was awarded the Innovation in Glass Award, and Emerging Glass Artist Award by the National Craft Awards in Ireland. She also received 2 scholarships to study under master glass makers in the world renowned Corning Museum of Glass. Her work has appeared alongside other major makers in the Brown Thomas exhibition, Create 2015.

From 2016-2017 she worked under a master glassblower in the U.K.  Here she honed her glassblowing skills within the production setting.


In 2017 she began her MA in 3D Design Crafts in Plymouth College of Art , with a project proposal to develop the interface between glass and other materials using digital technologies to create sustainable craft products.