Lisa Sammut has found working in the unfamiliar medium of glass an interesting challenge, with the results visible throughout a circular logic at Canberra Glassworks. As she says, “It’s really made me reconsider the way I work.”
Sammut’s 10-decade practice spans sculpture, light, video and installation, often with kinetic components. She’s exhibited in The National: New Australian Art, was a finalist in the 2021 Ramsay Art Prize, and is also currently showing in a group exhibition at Buxton Contemporary. Earlier this year, she was invited to undertake a residency with Canberra Glassworks, selected for her interest in how glass could carry the translucent optical qualities of her work.
“Handmade glass has its limits; it is almost always intimately bound to human scale. It demands closeness, as the maker or the viewer. It is interesting to me that I should try and make glass speak to ideas of expanse and magnitude. A futile, yet optimistic, gesture.”
“The idea was to activate the material in a different way,” explains Sammut of her residency. “I realised that I think quite two-dimensionally, even though I work in space. The objects I make are often quite flat, facades of what they pretend to be. Glass, particularly handblown, wants to be rounded, to pool around itself. As a result, I am letting the material lead the way.”
The subsequent exhibition draws together three elements—light, photography and glass—to develop a theatrical space that speaks to Sammut’s interest in the cosmos, and the human lens through which we try to imagine its vast scale and scope. As she says, “To create something hand-held and intimate is a way to grasp big ideas, speculating on this magnitude.”
Shapes found in nature, like the crescent moon, are used to express the subtle poetics of human emotions in response to cosmic events. “Handmade glass has its limits; it is almost always intimately bound to human scale. It demands closeness, as the maker or the viewer. It is interesting to me that I should try and make glass speak to ideas of expanse and magnitude. A futile, yet optimistic, gesture.”
This article was originally published in the July/August 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.
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Art Guide Editors
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Art Guide Australia
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