artist spotlight
Mare Saare

share your creative practice:
in conversation with Mare Saare

What does it mean to you to join the North Lands Creative network and be part of building a community for glass?


Having visited North Lands on two occasions – first time in 1997 – I do feel happy and honoured becoming a part of the network. Belonging to the glass family worldwide is both supportive and challenging.


Tell us about your work. What influences translate into your art practice?


I approach glass today with the same amount of curiosity as decades ago when I was still a newcomer. The changing world is becoming hostile. A city girl before, I nowadays spend more time in countryside. In the foreground is nature and its vulnerability, people today seem like butterflies in strong breeze…


Has this changed the way you approach your work?


I’ve always tried to express the transience of everything around us and make amends with the fact of ephemerality. Therefore, most of my works are extremely fragile, and some changes might nowadays be more concerned with technical aspects – I still like to ask the question “What if …”. Glass as a three-dimensional definition to different phenomena, different circumstances.


What initially captured your imagination about glass?


It was an unknown substance, very beautiful, very unpredictable and had so many different appearances. Everything else seemed too safe and expectable.


What’s the significance of the handmade to you?


I love to handle the material, to touch it and be able to give it a form, or work with the surfaces. This is when time kind of stops and thoughts have a free flow. When having a look at other people’s works, one can also feel the artist’s emotions and touch of hand and soul.


What was your route to becoming an artist?


During my studies, time was so different from nowadays – I was born in the USSR. In 1993, a whole decade after graduation, I had the first real encounter with glass during a residency on Bornholm. Know-how of technical aspects gave freedom of expression. Afterwards it was lots of traveling, continuous thirst for information, emotions, new skills.


What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?


I use different techniques, finding ways of combining them. I like kiln-work and acid-etching as the results are sometimes a little bit unpredictable, depending on many outside conditions. As a balancing contrast, engraving gives the most control and is very meditative. I let the chemical reactions, caused by acid or heat, create chaos only to take it in my own hands again.


How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary glass?


I think my work would fit into the realm of semi-abstract expressionism and is mostly not functional. It seems such a privilege to have one’s thoughts and emotions take form in material and exist in reality.


Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?


I have worked with sand-moulds for a long time. The process is reminiscent of children building sand-castles. Making the mould is spontaneous and suits my impatient character. In my workshop I have a small kiln that gives me independence. Lately, I’ve been working on an island where I have a small workshop surrounded by forest. Nature invades through door and windows…


Who do you look up to when it comes to aesthetics?


When I first saw the works of Anselm Kiefer, I was captivated. The works were grandiose and at the same time subtly detailed. I also love Japanese art and culture, Michael Kenna’s photos, in glass – Macho Palo’s monumental paintings, his subtle nuanced colours.


What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?


I have to say nature inspires me most. Decades ago, I got acquainted with Japanese artist Etsuko Nishi whose delicate works I admire until present day, and the great Czech engraver Jiři Harcuba has been an influence in many ways – his ability to inspire, to change, his discussions about wabi-sabi


How are you experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic in your country? To what extent has your everyday life as an artist changed in lockdown?


The pandemic hasn’t left any countries untouched, including Estonia. There was a period in spring 2021, when we had one of the greatest percentages in Europe. That was frightening. However, it didn’t influence my work as I’ve always worked alone in my studio. Emotionally it definitely is omnipresent, giving a very different drift to one’s thoughts about life.

Mare Saare

Mare Saare, glass artist, professor emeritus of Estonian Academy of Arts

She is internationally known for fragile glass sculptures fused in sand moulds. Her works also include hot and stained glass, acid-etching, engraving, photography. She was head of the department of glass of the EAA in 1993 – 2018. Member of Estonian Artists’ Association and European Glass Engraving Network.