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“When people see my work, I want them to touch it”.
Industrial buildings in and around a trading estate just north of Wormwood Scrubs make an improbable environment for artists working in glass. But there are three of them based here making beautiful glass works of art – Cathryn Shilling, Frances Arkle and Julie Light. And they will all be opening the doors of their studios to the public as part of the ArtWest Open Studios weekend on October 3rd and 4th this year.
All three came to glass late in their careers. Cathryn was a successful graphic designer who subsequently studied glass in America and London. Since then she has created a large and varied collection of kiln-formed, hot glass and fusion glass (all different processes). She sells widely, holding exhibitions recently in Denmark and Germany, as well as the UK. A few months ago she sold two of her pieces to Elton John, who has added them to his extensive collection of art in Atlanta. She says she finds glass a seductive material to work with, and loves exploring its complementary attributes: its solid sculptural quality, and its transparency in the use of colour and light. “For me glass is the perfect medium, giving me creative and technical freedom and enabling me to produce something tactile, tangible and enduring, which I hope will give as much pleasure to its owner, as it has to me, its maker”.
Frances was the first female architect to graduate from Queens University Belfast, and her subsequent career as an architect included specialist work conserving and converting historic farm buildings. She took up working with glass after retiring as an architect, and says it gives her great creative pleasure – as well as the occasional headache! As well as exhibiting, she has worked on a range of commissions, and she says the satisfaction of knowing that a brief has been fulfilled and given pleasure to the owner makes it all worthwhile. She works with architectural glass, kiln-formed glass and sand-blasted glass. “I like my work to intrigue”, she says, “and where possible to amuse and occasionally subvert!”.
Cathryn and Frances share a studio in at the Royal Oak end of Hythe Road. A mile or so away, just off Scrubs Lane, Julie Light is working with cast glass. This involves melting glass into a mould: each time creating a unique work of art, as the mould is destroyed when the piece is fired. After a successful career as a Human Resources specialist, working for organisations like the BBC, Julie decided to spend as much time as possible with her new passion. She loves the ability glass gives to play with light: “With glass I can create surfaces that reflect the light, transmit it straight through or stop it in its tracks. When people see my work, I want them to touch it….” Julie, too, exhibits extensively across the country, as well as accepting commissions.
Cathryn Shilling and Frances Arkle: ArtFusion, Unit 1, Gateway Industrial Estate, Hythe Road NW10 6UN
Julie Light: The Light Factory, 6 Scrubs Lane, London NW10 6RB
Cathryn Shilling: www.cathrynshilling.co.uk
Frances Arkle: www.francesarkle.co.uk
Julie Light: www.julielightglass.co.uk