Past Exhibitions at Glass Etc.
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.
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
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.
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
Glass Etc: 18-22 Rope Walk, Rye
East Sussex, TN31 7NA
Tel: 01797 226600.
• Previous Exhibitions
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.
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.
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.
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
See a double-page spread on the potteries of Rye in the
August issue of BBC Homes & Antiques magazine
for background information.