GLASS LIVES INTERVIEW:
Anna Varnase

Anna Varnase in conversation with North Lands Creative Director Karen Phillips.

PROJECT ACTIVITY - Glass Nexus Forum

PARTNER - north lands creative

YEAR - 2018

1. What were you doing in the year leading up to your ISGNE Project Coordinator position at Glass Point?

Our main concern during this year was the international art exhibition ‘Voice of Glass Collaborative’. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19, we were forced to postpone this event from October 2020 to January 2021. Still, it took so much of our energy and decisions.  One day we were sure that the exhibition will be just online, the next meeting showed opportunities to realize the full potential of the art exhibition. During summertime, it seemed so real that we even could get international artists visiting Riga, but then the situation got worse. To be honest, this year is hell for project coordinator because the decisions you made are changed meantime.

2. Please tell us how you are finding the position, and what keeps you motivated?

Mainly it is my passion for glass. I enjoy community building and finding an opportunity to help young, emerging artists. Our network gives me so much information and I am able to spread it. We had a great experience when one culture center asked us for help finding a glass artist to exhibit at their venue. It shows that we can be a contact point, to help them meet each other.

Landscape with closed eyes

3. How do you think ISGNE is different from other projects?

We all hope that our ISGNE activities will create lasting working relationships and cultural exchanges that will enrich the European glass scene. The added value of this project is a broader network than we could imagine. This is especially important for us as Baltic states are the furthest point in the EU, so be involved in the community and exchange, to highlight our artist is unique and invaluable. This project also helps to bring interest to the international audiences to Latvian glass art.

4. When did you first start working with glass, and how has your making process and work evolved over time?

Since a young age I was always interested in arts, so to make it a carrier came naturally. Of course, I did not know back then that it will be a glass artist. I would say my first meeting with glass was a lucky incident. After graduating Riga school of Design Arts, the metal department I had a desire to try something new and colorful, so why not glass? Thinking about my work, I would say that, in the beginning, it was essential for me to focus on the technical part of the material and what it can do, not so much on a concept. After graduating I started to concentrate more on the story and what I would like to highlight in this world using art.

5. Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

I draw inspiration from everyday life and situations that resonate with me both in a good or a bad way. When this happens, an idea is born and I dig deeper, seeing the ways how to render it in art, how to tell a story about it. It can be as small as a raindrop on a window or a rough visit to the social services department as a part of my previous position as a refugee mentor. I frequently ask myself how to reveal a feeling in art, and how to let the observer feel it too.

6. Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?

‘Voice of Glass Collaborative’ my collaborative work is not finished yet, so this takes all of the free time and mental space.

Anna Varnase in process

Anna Varnase in process

7. Please tell us about Glass Point and how you were involved in founding the organization.

I have always wanted to have my own studio. It was my dream from the early years to establish such creative space and promote glass art to the wider public, to educate and inspire.

8. What is the organization's mission looking towards the future?

Our studio is a place where artists and non-artists can create art, are inspired by famous and emerging artists’ work, experiment with different mediums, and have fun in a relaxed and professional studio environment. Open concept studio gives an opportunity to learn a combination of basic skills and techniques to work with glass as material. An emphasis will be placed on personal exploration and creative growth, in a supportive atmosphere. I would love to expand the technical abilities of the space in the nearest future.

9. How does Latvian culture and living in Riga impact your work?

It’s hard to tell, I have not had the opportunity to live abroad. I would guess maybe to color palette, as Baltic is quite misty, we are not blessed with the sun for the whole year.

10. How have you been during the months of quarantine? How is the artist community in Riga dealing with this unsettling situation?

During the months of quarantine, we felt strong support from our clients, partners, and audience. We have been reminded of the role of art to help us express ourselves. Of course, our clients are more careful, but still, they had the desire and a need to come to individual masterclasses when it was allowed. I would say this was a productive time to finish started projects as well as have some mental space to start new ones.

Thought Object 16 different peaces

11. What are your favorite European artists, studios and/ or places?

International glass symposium in Lviv (Ukraine) was the first symposium I visited so it will always be close to my heart. Novy Bor (Czech Republic) really strong roots in hot glass, IGS symposium has an incredibly wide glass artist audience and strong technical works, I would love to be invited one day. Panevežys (Lithuania), Glass Yazz symposium, a really unique location in the small industrial town of Lithuania, such a magnificent glass art are made, also, for now, this is the only symposium happening in Baltics. I have not been to Peter Layton – London glassblowing studio, but it is on my to-do list. And of course, remote town of Scotland Lybster – North Lands Creative, brilliant forum, where the opportunities live.

12. How important is it to you to be making work internationally and with other European organizations and artists?

Collaboration and openness are extremely important for me, I like working in a team. This is one of the reasons I opened Glass Point, to make glass art more accessible for everyone. I would encourage artists to be more open to teamwork and international projects, it is inspiring and helps to put things in perspective.

Design Vase for Ferma restaurant, 2018

Year award in culture, Livani municipality annual award

Mind flowers

ARTIST BIO
Anna varnase

Anna Varnase is a Latvian glass and mixed media artist based in Riga. In her work, she negotiates universal perceptions as a bridge between artist and observer. She focuses on the visualization of thoughts and feelings. In 2017 Anna graduateted from Art Academy of Latvia, Master of Arts in Humanities, Glass art. In the same year she founded Glass Point studio, to turn her passion into living. Is a member of Glass Art society and Latvian Design Society

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