GLASS LIVES INTERVIEW:
Berlin Glas

Berlin Glas Director, Nadania Idriss in conversation with North Lands Creative Director Karen Phillips.

PROJECT Partner 

1. Please tell us about your organization and what is your main focus in the ISGNE project? 

Berlin Glas e.V. is a non-profit, public access studio located in Germany’s capital city. In the 9 years since we opened, we have been very much engaged with our community, partnering with youth clubs and local NGO’s that focus on underserved communities. We have an on-going relationships with the State Museums in Berlin, international institutions, such as the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and the Australian National University in Canberra, an Artist in Residency programme, and we teach a joint-university sculpture class with two of Berlin’s largest art academies. The ISGNE project gives European glass artists an opportunity to spend time an in-depth period of time in Berlin. It allows the to be able to research and develop new works of art using various techniques.

2. What is your role on the project?

I am the founder and director of Berlin Glas, so I’m at my desk organising the residencies!

Alexandra Muresan AiR, 2019

3. Why were you interested in being involved in the ISGNE project? 

The ISGNE residency is a joint-programme between North Lands in Scotland and Berlin, so the artists doesn’t just get to spend a month in Germany, but has the extraordinary opportunity to spend a month in Lybster immediately afterwards. I think giving an artist a chance to R&D their work at two state of the art studios and in two very different environments is not just rare, but cool! We also offer a yearly Master Class, and the ISGNE project gives us a chance to invite someone from outside of Europe, which is great for artists here to learn new techniques.

4. One of the goals of ISGNE is to use glass to approach certain issues in the project partners’ local communities. Can you share any examples about an artist making an influence on a community? 

Since 2016, Berlin Glas has been teaming up with the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum to give free public workshops. The ‘Multaka (“meeting point” in Arabic) – Berlin Glas Workshops” bring together locals with the community of refugees that have been entering the city since 2015. The workshops use glass as the meeting point so that the participants can get to know one another.  The ISGNE AiRs are invited to teach a Multaka Workshop. This is an elective opportunity, which has been very much welcomed.

5. Co-operation is a fundamental aspect of this initiative. Who are you collaborating with and how did this partnership come about? 

North Lands Creative for the most part. I met Karen Phillips in 2018 and was invited to apply for the grant together. I already knew Caroline Madden from NCAD and was thrilled to work with Glass Point in Latvia, a country we had not yet had an experience with.

6. What are the benefits of securing the Creative Europe funding? 

CE Funding allows us to highlight that partnerships allow projects to be more impactful. Together, 4 institutions have created a platform for mobility and opportunity.

Ali Yaas and Alexandra Muresan Multaka Workshop, March 2019

Sofia Villamarin ISGNE Master Class, 2018

7. How can artists or organisations be involved in your activities on the ISGNE project? What’s coming up?

 COVID cancelled our year. We had one Multaka workshop in 2020 with only 6 participants, and we have another one at the end of November. I would like to imagine that we double-up the AiR programme next year, but I’m not sure travel will be that easy, especially if one is required to quarantine before starting.

8. You communicate with artists and studios in other European countries. What is the prevailing mood currently? 

Everyone I have spoken with is trying to make the best of the situation, many offering online classes and demos. I would say the mood is an exhausted-optimism..

9. The contemporary glass world is built on mobility: artists and their projects are not subjected to national borders, they travel and work in different countries, and their works are exhibited globally. How do you think the international glass scene will change after this crisis?

think a new wave of classes will be online and actual physical residencies and tacit experiences will be limited for at least the next 2 years.

10. Would you agree that lockdowns have shown us the wider importance of culture: networks, communities and projects help people survive this hard period? What will the new normal look like for your organisation? 

The majority of our work is on the local level; therefore, the crisis has not impacted us that radically. We still offer workshops with hygiene concepts well in place, and our youth programme is very much running. ISGNE has been the most affected, as it relies on the mobility of international artists and instructors for the Master Class.

Sophie Longwell AiR October 2019

Silvia Levenson Multaka Workshop September, 2019

Sound Experience Multaka Workshop October 2020

Luke Holden and Yasser Almaamoun Multaka Workshop October 2020

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