Kamberra funds scholarship for ACT glass students

In August this year the inaugural Kamberra Prize, a scholarship for glass students, was launched by the director of the National Gallery of Australia, Dr Brian Kennedy. The US$ 2,500 scholarship, to …

In August this year the inaugural Kamberra Prize, a scholarship for glass students, was launched by the director of the National Gallery of Australia, Dr Brian Kennedy. The US$ 2,500 scholarship, to be awarded annually, will offer one student in the glass workshop at the ANU Institute of the Arts the opportunity to attend a residential course at the Pilchuck Glass School in the US. Pilchuck, founded by glass artist Dale Chihuly in 1971, is the largest educational glass centre in the world, but not much more significant than the Australian National University“s glass workshop, which has produced many prize-winning international artists in the medium. Manager of Kamberra Wine Company Greg Morris was quick to spot the relevance of this unique sponsorship gambit. “We wanted to support local artists, and with such a strong link between wine and glass it seemed a natural choice.” Bottles, glasses and carafes will no doubt be in abundance. Entrants are required to submit a wine-related glass object for judging by the NGA“s Curator of Decorative Art and Design, Robert Bell. ANU glass expert Jane Bruce joined visiting lecturer Christina Kirk, of the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, Britain, to appraise some of the fine glass works on display at Kamberra. Both expressed approval and very little surprise that glass products had become the most highly priced items in the fine craft industries. After all, as Kirk put it, “there is a kind of alchemy in making glass“. Head of the Canberra School of Art Professor David Williams said the attitude of art students to business realities was rapidly changing, with the barriers between creative artists and business innovators coming down fast. But not too fast, thank you very much. Dr Kennedy, who reminded guests that his native Ireland was a country where glass was very much a viable business proposition, cautioned that these were still early days for Australia“s young glassmakers. Using the words of the late Stephen Procter, former head of the ANU“s glass workshop, he said “the bird must have feathers before it can fly“.