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Our Journal

Glass Art Society 2021 – Green Exhibition Award

Cornwall-based artist Abigail Reynolds, Plymouth College of Art Glass Workshop Coordinator Amy Whittingham and Fab Lab Plymouth Principle Technician Ian Hankey have won a prestigious international sustainability award from the US-based Glass Art Society.

A collaborative project between Cornwall-based artist Abigail Reynolds, Plymouth College of Art Glass Workshop Coordinator Amy Whittingham and Fab Lab Plymouth Principle Technician Ian Hankey has won a prestigious international sustainability award from the US-based Glass Art Society.

The award, given at Green Exhibition, Trace: Showcasing Sustainable Glass Art, was based on ‘Flux’, the film created by Abigail Reynolds to document her kelp glass project, which included the creation by Ian Hankey of a hand-built glass furnace at Kestle Barton gallery, near the beach in Cornwall. This furnace was then used to melt glass using only local beach sand and ash from locally gathered seaweed, reviving medieval glass recipes and techniques to recreate the lost art of creating kelp glass.

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Abigail Reynold, Ian Hankey and Amy Whittingham

Ian Hankey, Fab Lab Plymouth Principle Technician and Managing Director of the Upcycled Glass Company CIC, collected the award on Abigail’s behalf, saying: “I’m thankful to Abigail, who recognises the importance of the knowledge and skill that went into the technical aspects of her project. It is the artwork that Abigail conceived and created that truly won this award, and I feel lucky to have played a part in what she has accomplished. I am very proud to accept this award on behalf of myself, fellow glass technician and artist Amy Whittingham, and of course Abigail, along with everyone who played a part in this project.”

Abigail initiated the project having read archaeological surveys of the Scilly Isles and the Helford River, finding that kelp pits were located along the shoreline to produce kelp ash for the glass industry in Bristol. The kelp pits created to burn seaweed to ash still survive on the Scilly Isles, where they were in use from the 1680s until at least the 1830s, when the ash was chemically superseded.

'Flux', a film by Abigail Reynolds

Amy Whittingham, Glass Workshop Coordinator at Plymouth College of Art and glass artist with a studio at Flameworks joined Abigail on the project when she was first looking for glassworkers to collaborate with. Amy worked closely with Abigail at every stage of the process, including gathering kelp and sand together.

Abigail first exhibited in The Gallery (now MIRROR) at Plymouth College of Art in 2013 as part of the South West Showcase, beginning a long-running relationship with our staff and students.

As part of British Art Show 9, which comes to Plymouth late 2022, Abigail is creating new work, ‘Elliptical Reading’ with libraries in each city of the tour. This is in addition to exhibiting an existing glass work ‘When Words are Forgotten’. British Art Show is a landmark touring exhibition that celebrates the vitality of recent art made in Britain. Organised every five years by Hayward Gallery Touring, the exhibition brings the work of artists who are defining new directions in contemporary art to four different cities across the UK. Working in partnership with Plymouth Culture, BAS9 will be shown across four city venues – The Box, KARST, The Levinsky Gallery at the University of Plymouth and MIRROR at Plymouth College of Art from 8 October to 23 December 2022.

Find out more about Ian Hankey’s work with the Upcycled Glass Company in his Smart Citizens Sustainable Design Talk, ‘Rethinking glassmaking technologies and sustainable business models’, part of the Plymouth Social Enterprise City Festival, hosted by the Plymouth Social Enterprise Network (PSEN). The event takes place online from 5:30pm to 7pm on Thursday 18 November 2021. Register for your free ticket.