Sunday, July 4, 2010


Stalking exhibitions has become a compulsion of late. In this instance I have been asked to ‘open’ the exhibition; a focus on glass by eight artists. Not that I hold any position of importance in the eyes of the art/craft fraternity (or any other fraternity, for that matter); far from it. I can only see this as ‘payback’ of some type. Never-the-less I take my task seriously and say very little. After all, the patrons attendee's are here to view things of beauty; and that definitely leaves me out.

Glass has a fluid beauty that distinguishes it from other media. As if in chorus, glass has a sense of cold and heat at the same time. It appears delicate, yet exhibits considerable strength. In the hands of an artist, glass can become almost anything we desire. It can be utilitarian or aesthetic or both. We can drink from it, eat off it, see the world through it, reflect on it, wear it, and above all, admire its beauty as a result of manipulation in the hands of a fine artist.
Darwin has its fair share of glass artisans. Natalie Jenkins, in the brief time since she has taken up this craft, has shown herself to be as skilled and imaginative as any. I can only describe her recent work as hypnotic.
Natalie and I chat loosely on her background (NT through and through, I might add) and other relevant subjects as I wrestle with the lights and backdrop. I need to capture the singular beauty of her work in isolation to do it any justice at all. Then, unexpectedly, I find myself alone (as I often do when indulging in conversation).

I use my time wisely with the ‘jellyfish twins’. Already I am in a state of severe anxiety for fear of snapping off a tentacle. My relationship with such fragile objects is usually short-lived.
Natalie returns. People never cease to surprise me and Natalie has not been a disappointment. She is able to transform the most mundane into a thing of beauty with her bare hands yet the mention of a camera sends her running for a mirror. She flusters over the condition of her T-shirt and apologizes profusely for not having been more prepared.
Is the nature of us humans to believe that we can separate what we do from what we are? I could say to Natalie that she could wear a potato sack and groom herself with the left-overs from last night’s meal and I wouldn’t notice. Anyone who can produce this kind of stuff doesn’t need me, my camera or any mirror to tell them how much beauty they possess.

And now I am once more stunned by another human reaction. Natalie forgets about me and the camera and plays with her ‘jellyfish’.
For a full ten minutes I stop breathing and click away as she juggles glass tentacles. She demonstrates what we all do when we ‘know’ our craft; the object becomes part of her; another appendage, as it were. I confidently make a few adjustments to the camera as Natalie continues her dance with her transparent Scychozoa. Once again I am hypnotized by the scene through the viewfinder.
We discuss mutual friends, mentors and the meaning of life. Natalie talks confidently of her future. I have no doubt we will be seeing a lot more of Natalie and her glass.

Thanks Natalie.

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