artist spotlight
Alison Vincent

share your creative practice:
in conversation with Alison Vincent

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

 

Joining the North Lands Creative network means that I’ll be able to access a wider community of glass artists and also benefit from, and input into, ideas, resources and broader collaborations.  It’s great opportunity to be part of this inspirational community.

 

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

 

My art is inspired by nature and the beauty of wilderness locations – in particular polar wilderness that I have travelled to and oceans I have dived in or sailed across.
I love oceans and the rich life they contain; whales, sharks, rays, reef life and polar bears as well as waves and currents.
I’m also inspired by ice and mountains and the life that clings on in these extreme conditions. 
I want to draw attention to the fragility of nature, but also the strength of nature, especially in these extremely remote wild locations.

 

Has this changed the way you approach your work?

 

This has directed the way that I work in that I can now focus my glass art towards something that I feel immensely strongly about and draw attention to those issues, raising awareness in others and hopefully inspiring them to care more about our beautiful planet and the environments and creatures that exist within it.

 

What initially captured your imagination about glass?

 

I was initially awestruck when I first saw glassblowing.  I loved the heat, the activity and adrenaline and danger!  I also admired the ability to mould, this molten liquid into beautiful forms.  I love the colours within glass but also the refractivity of clear glass, and much of my work contains both – intense colour surrounded by large expanses of crystal clear glass.  As soon as I saw glassblowing I knew it was for me!

 

What’s the significance of the handmade to you?

 

The significance of handmade is enormous to me.  It means that each piece can be unique and one off, not mass produced in bulk. 
Even more than this it’s critical for me to make every piece, rather than direct its making.  It’s important to me to not only design but also to make my own work so I have spent a lot of time, effort and money in gaining the technical skills.

Each piece has a part of me – I’ve put my love, my effort and my craft into making it and in making it the best that I can.  Each piece is unique and everyone who owns a piece of my art has a unique part, not only of my inspiration, but also of my spirit!

 

What was your route to becoming an artist?

 

  1. As a child, I enjoyed art but had to decide between arts and sciences for university.  I chose sciences followed by a corporate career and then running my own business consultancy for 20 years but I always wanted to get back to creativity.

Several years since becoming instantly addicted to glassblowing and running it as a growing hobby alongside my career I made the leap of faith to glass.  It hasn’t been easy.  There is no obvious route in the UK to learn hands on skills so I travelled to different studios, hiring the studio and owner to teach me.  It’s the hardest thing I have ever done and ridiculously expensive.

avg349-surf-glass-vase-teal-by-alison-vincent

What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?

 

I am a hot glass artist – I hand blow hot glass and also sculpt hot glass.  I enjoy learning the ancient techniques of hot glass but also experimenting and trying my own techniques.  For me, glass is a fantastic medium to play and have fun with as well as express myself through.

 

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

 

My art is a reflection of the beauty and the fragility of the rich life of extreme wilderness.  It’s an aspiration to inspire others to be interested to find out more and care about the natural world so that we can take better care of our beautiful planet. 

I don’t tend to think of where I fit within to the contemporary glass field. Maybe because I haven’t gone through a traditional arts education, but this is something that I am less aware of and less concerned with.

 

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

 

Glassmaking is a traditional craft.  It’s hard work, manual, hot, dirty and loud.  I like this environment but it can be very waring, especially on hot sunny days or in the depths of winter!

I’m building a new studio which will have a lot of electric equipment to reduce noise and ambient heat so hopefully will be more comfortable.  I like good light to make my work.  Many studios are dimly lit but mine will have great lighting too.

I also am inspired by working in a lovely location.  My studio is in a rural location but you can’t beat North Lands!

 

When I create new glass I have a vision in my mind of what I want to achieve and how I want it to look.  I will often sketch it in quite rudimentary form.  If I’m working with an assistant I will discuss it together with ways of how to achieve what I want.  Then I will make and refine test pieces before making the final piece.  Glass has a mind of its own, so it’s a case of working with the glass to produce the effects that I want.  Sometimes, everything goes to plan, other times I have surprises which can either be pleasant or disasters!

 

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

 

For aesthetics, I look to a wide variety of people from different fields:  Zaha Hadid architecture, Theo Jansen moving sculpture, Andy Goldsworthy landscape sculpture or beautiful Vicke Lindstrand glass.

 

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

 

Currently I’m very inspired to raise awareness and stop the horrific massacre of dolphins and whales in the Faroe Islands Grindadráp, or the ‘Grind’.  1,428 dolphins were slaughtered in a single day in 2021 wiping out a super pod.  There were many more days of slaughter.  I am developing a new range focused on this.

 

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

 

During COVID 2020 all of the glass studios I hire closed.  My work hands on as a glass artist came to an abrupt halt.  I used the time to plan new designs. 
During lockdowns in 2021 I classed my glassblowing as work, and hired a studio for 50% of the time from January to March to learn and practice my skills, design new ranges and create new work intensively.  The studio is a three hour round trip from my home and during the icy winter months I stayed closer to the studio to avoid treacherous journeys.  It was very lonesome in deserted pub or hotel rooms without heating, food or drink, facilities!  But it did mean that I could intensively work in the glass studio which progressed my skills and stock levels.

Alison Vincent

Alison Vincent is a hot glass artist living and working in the UK.  She came to glass in 2012 and practised as a hobby alongside her consulting career before focusing full time on glass in 2019.  

She self-trained across the UK through hiring studios and the owner for one-to-one tuition and by attending masterclasses with some of the UK’s best glass artists. 

Alison’s work is inspired by the beauty and life of oceans and wilderness.

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