Annette Blair shows us the past lives of objects through glass


Annette Blair has been blowing, sculpting, carving, and painting glass for over 20 years—and now she’s exquisitely demonstrating this knowledge and experience in her first solo exhibition at Canberra Glassworks, Quietly Spoken.

Bringing together over 100 individual objects moulded from glass, the pieces include hardware tools, nails, paint cans, brushes, flower petals, leaves, and food. Arranged in clustered groups, these ordinary items resemble sculptural, suburban still life forms.

Many of these objects are inspired by those found around Blair’s house, in the sheds of her father and grandfather, or items from European still life paintings. Crafted with glass, their original function is rendered obsolete, ensuring they can be reconsidered with fresh eyes. “I’m really interested in how you can have relationships with these objects,” says Blair, “and how they can remind you of a time, place, or person to create a connection that goes beyond their utilitarian functions.”

This nostalgic interest in the history and memories of objects also extends to the inevitability of decay. In a testament to her technical skills, Blair bends, twists, and coats her objects in rust, as if they had been thrown away and left out in the elements. She paints bruises on fallen leaves, and carves away the body of an eaten apple.

Encapsulated in glass, these damaged and decayed objects become immortalised and remembered. “I like that while glass is seemingly very breakable, it’s also very permanent,” says Blair, “and in creating an object which might have originally been made out of a material like tin or wood in glass, I’m able to both celebrate and preserve it. I hope that viewers can engage with the works to build stories about them, and see them as the still lifes they are—little moments in time, preserved.”

Quietly Spoken
Annette Blair
Canberra Glassworks
15 June—14 August

This article was originally published in the July/August 2022 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Zali Matthews