artist spotlight
Debbie Dawson

share your creative practice:
in conversation with Debbie Dawson

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


It means I am connected to a vibrant supportive group of like -minded artists with common values and goals.


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


My current practice is concerned with landscape as a metaphor for the human condition. Using specific, autobiographical moments and imbuing them with mystical and intangible interpretations I create dream worlds as a means of expressing universal emotions.


Has this changed the way you approach your work?


No not really.


What initially captured your imagination about glass?


It is the unique properties of glass – it’s ability to transmit light, it’s fragility, that really resonates with me.


What’s the significance of the handmade to you?


The handmade embodies the personality of the maker and so is the essence of any making.


What was your route to becoming an artist?


I was always drawing and painting as a child but never thought of it seriously as a career until someone who looked at my work suggested I apply to art college. I remember the first day I walked in to the building – it really felt like I had come home. I haven’t looked back since.

2_Debbie Dawson_Soft Day 2021_Photo Roland Paschhoff_Painted,stained,sandblasted & glued float glass_60cm x 60cm

What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?


I make stained glass. My techniques are cutting, painting, staining, sandblasting, and leading. My recent work has become more focused on assembling and layering of glass pieces presented on light tables. This new direction allows me to take the glass out of its leaded structure, eschewing the traditional format of a stained-glass panel and allows the image to expand beyond the edges or perimeters of the glass. 


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


My work has been described as very atmospheric and poetic. It has a narrative content to it, usually autobiographical references, but this is not overly explicit.  


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


Painting a spontaneous mark instinctively onto the surface of the glass and allowing this to inform the development of the image is for me the most interesting aspect of my process. It allows me to be open and uninhibited in my approach to the material. Selecting and assembling the painted, stained and sandblasted glass to create multiple and layered imagery is another part of the process that is important to me. I have a small studio at the rear of my home which I love. Once I close the door behind me I get lost for hours.


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


I have been inspired by some of the greats; Patrick Reyntiens who recently passed away was a huge influence on me as a student. Also, Mark Angus – his sensitive painterly style has always had effect on me along with Brian Clarke and John Piper. 


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


I’m currently inspired by the landscape around me using it as a metaphor for autobiographical references. I admire the work of Jeff Zimmer and April Surgent. Though they work with different processes, the outcomes they produce really affect me. I also love the work of Sibylle Peretti and Anne Petters, again for the delicate sensitive work they make.


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 first lockdown I felt there was a lot of pressure on us artists to be in the studio creating but I slowly began to enjoy the slowing down of the world, the chance to pause and take a breath. I made quite a bit of work over the last year and a half because of this. I’m also an educator and I found having to teach online almost unbearable. Thankfully we are now back ‘in person’ with the students. 

Debbie Dawson

Debbie Dawson is an Irish glass artist for the past 30 years. She has exhibited widely including US, China, Germany, Denmark and UK. Her work is in many private and public collections including the National Museum of Ireland.