New Exhibition at Glass Etc

You Animal! An exhibition of some 350 glass animals:Monday 25 October to Sunday 7 November.


Public perception of glass animals has traditionally fallen into two camps. On one hand, they have been dismissed as ghastly, low-grade rubbish intended for those of no taste. On the other, they are also viewed as one of the ultimate expressions of the glassmakers’ art: recreating in solid form the grace and movement of birds and beasts. 

1976-Snowy-Owl-PAUL-HOFF-KOSTA-SWEDEN The idea really took off during the late-50s and early 1960s as wealth spread down the social scale, enabling those who had previously regarded glass as a uniquely functional material into one suitable for decorating their homes. 

The process further accelerated during the 1970s when machines capable of making cheap wine-glasses threatened the future of the fine glassworks whose survival depended on selling expensive handmade ones. With the end in sight for one of their principal sources of income, designers developed new ideas for generating sales, principally through unique and limited edition Art Glass, including sculptural animals of all shapes, sizes, colours and species.

1975c-Cat-Suncatcher-Bergdala-Sweden The makers and designers involved in creation of the resulting glass animal kingdom include most of the Greats and virtually every conceivable animal has been represented in glass over the past fifty years. In alphabetical order, you can find alligators, bears, cats, dogs, elephants, foxes, gorillas.... Snails, yes, but no known slugs. There is no doubt as to the most popular, the owl. This is particularly the case in Sweden where children and students were given glass owls by doting relations at the start of each academic year in an effort to urge them towards wisdom.

The first-ever exhibition dedicated to the subject, You Animal!, is being staged in Rye, East Sussex. The display of around 300 examples by the leading makers and designers will surely finally destroy the preconception that glass animals are kitschand prove that they are, indeed, very cool.

1978-SVENSKT-GLAS-WORLD-WILDLIFE-FUND-1978-LIMITED-TO-AN-EDITION-OF-EIGHT-THOUSAND-PHOFF-KOSTA-SWEDEN You Animal! will be staged at Glass Etc between Monday 25 October and Sunday 7 November. Admission is free and the venue is open every day: Monday-Saturday 10.30-5. Sundays from Midday.
Glass Etc: 18-22 Rope Walk, Rye
East Sussex, TN31 7NA
Tel: 01797 226600.

• Previous Exhibitions
Salt Our first exhibition, held in 2006, showcased The Glass Salt Cellar 1720-1980, featuring 250 examples drawn from Andy’s collection amassed over 30 years, together with others drawn from various private collections.

20th-Century-Decanter-poster The 20th Century Decanter, Autumn 2006, comprised around 300 pieces from the world’s major glassworks of the 20th century. These included Baccarat [France]; Orrefors, Kosta, Boda and Äfors, [Sweden]; Riihimäki, Iittala and Nuutäjarvi [Finland]; Blenko and Steuben [US]; and numerous British glassworks, including Whitefriars, Stuart, Webb and Webb Corbett, Dartington, Kings Lynn/Wedgwood and Edinburgh Crystal.

Scandi-glass-Ariel-vase Scandinavian Glass, May-July 2007, focused on the fastest-rising area of interest amongst collectors, and follows on the heels of the publication of my book, 20th Century Glass, published by Miller’s last year. This highlighted, some for the first time in accessible English-language literature, the output of the Finnish designers Tapio Wirkkala, Timo Sarpaneva [both Iittala] and Kaj Franck [Nuutäjarvi], and Nanny Still, Helena Tynell and Tamara Aladlin, for Riihimäki. Demand for their work has risen strongly, probably as a result of the book. All were featured in the exhibition.

Rye-Pottery-pig Exceptionally, our most recent exhibition dealt with ceramics: The Potteries of Rye; A Heritage Harvested. Curated by the London-based 20th century specialist dealer Gary Grant, the exhibition focused not only on Rye Pottery, but the output of the Cinque Ports, Monastery, David Sharp and Denis Townsend/Iden potteries, with representative pieces by Chris O'Donahue and Leo Bonasera.

See a double-page spread on the potteries of Rye in the August issue of BBC Homes & Antiques magazine for background information.