A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Retrospective of an Adelaide glass master
Pattern and Perception is a retrospective of Giles Betttison's glass art showing at the Jam Factory, Adelaide. The exhibition has garnered high praise and is very much worth seeking out as Bettison is an artist pushing boundaries. It also asks the viewer to return for repeated viewings, the rich patterns and textures demanding to be savoured and appreciated.
Giles Bettison is an internationally renowned glass artist and a master of contemporary murrine glass. He began his career in the mid 1990s as a young glass artist via the famed glass program at Australian National University, Canberra. He gained worldwide recognition within two years of graduating. His work was honoured with the 1999 Urban Glass New York Award for New Talent and was picked up for representation by major private galleries in the USA and Europe.
Bettison has worked for many years internationally, working from a studio in New York. He returned to South Australia in 2004 to re-establish his studio in Adelaide. His glass is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, and in museum collections in America and Europe. He now primarily lives and works in his hometown of Adelaide.
Up close The Jam Factory exhibition has staged his glass works on long narrow table ledges set quite high. This allows the observer to see them in great detail. They are very accessible, almost to the extent that the viewer is afraid of being too close. (You break it, you buy it!) Giles Bettison has explored form and composition in glass to create works of intricate beauty. He has focused on murrine glass making. This is an Italian term for colored patterns or images made in a glass cane (long rods of glass). When the rods are cut in cross-section various patterns are revealed.
Bettison's experimentation has given some glass works a woven feel, which is denoted in the title 'The Textile 15' series and the 'Vista' series. He has been drawn to hand woven textiles of Africa, particularly inspired by a book entitled African Majesty. In textiles he found ways to create variety and visual interest within a repetitive pattern. The curator of this retrospective also cites the artist being inspired by the way meaning and stories about people and events were portrayed in the textiles of Africa.
Mixing it up Some of the works have an earthenware look, as in the Mid North series. Inspiration has come from indigenous art, the earthy colours and textures. The Notch series mixes things up with the glass having a distinctive chunky appearance.
Evolution of an artist The transition of his work is fascinating to witness; the evolution of a contemporary glass artist. I could hardly take my eyes off the Chroma 15 series. This work has scored the cover shot on the Margot Osborne book for Wakefield Press and the SALA Monograph Series. The book investigates Bettison's ideas and fascination with chromatic patterns.
When viewing the Chroma series it is not immediately apparent that this is a glasswork. But looking from the inside out of the work the glass quality is revealed. The eye is drawn to the coloured shapes, which appear almost like large lollies stacked together; a bright coloured curve of collected pieces. It is the inventive style that draws the eye as much as the colours and patterns. This is funky and shows an artist having fun with his art form.
Giles Bettison creates beautiful objects that could take centre stage in your home. Or perhaps just buy the book, Giles Bettison by Margot Osborne, Wakefield Press. This is art that is essentially so visually detailed, it demands the eye for many repeated viewings. One could do a lot worse than to invest in a piece art from this seminal glass artist. The exhibition runs until September 19th.