Collect – MA Craft alumna exhibits at esteemed Crafts Council event
Based in Somerset House in London and exhibiting over five days, Collect 22 is one of the world's most influential fairs showcasing contemporary craft and design work, made in the last five years by artists and designers. Work spans many craft disciplines including glass, ceramics, lacquer, art jewellery, precious metalwork, textiles and fibre, wood and paper to works using non-traditional materials such as resin and bone.
Laura Quinn. Photo credit: Tim Savage
Laura, who received a Distinction for her MA in 3D Design Crafts (now called Craft & Material Practices) at Plymouth College of Art in 2019, applied to the fair representing herself as an independent artist.
Laura explains the process, “With Collect, usually galleries and organisations represent artists and their work. I was represented by North Lands Creative in Collect 2020, but since 2011, there’s been the option to apply through the Collect Open, where artists can submit a proposal, representing themselves. Collect Open is a platform for individual artists to take that next step in their career and artistic journey. I applied for it, and I was selected! It was exciting but also scary, it meant I had to get my act into gear and develop a whole new body of work for it.”
Laura Quinn's Tacit Flow II. Photo credit: Gideon Fisher
“Part of the application process is you have to propose a new body of work, so developing that for Collect has pushed me a lot. Everything has been experimental and challenging. It’s forced me to up my game; better my techniques, be a better glass blower, be better at problem solving.”
Collect art fair’s aim is to introduce and cultivate purchasing audiences to develop and grow the financial and intellectual value of craft at this level. Collect is well regarded for its credibility, sector authority and leadership with a warm-hearted openness and shared experience and provides art consultants, specialists, collectors, museum curators, practitioners and wider enthusiasts the opportunity to discover and invest in contemporary craft.
Laura Quinn's Tacit Sway. Photo credit: Gideon Fisher
In 2021, Laura won an Exhibition Support prize from Future Makers, an awards programme organised by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, to support her during her time at Collect. Laura received €1,000 with judges commenting that “she is to be commended on her juried selection for the prestigious ‘Collect’ exhibition and submitted an exciting and ambitious proposal that will make the audience see glass in a new way. It is a wonderful opportunity to support that.” Laura also contributed to Plymouth College of Art’s Making Futures journal in 2021, writing about sustainability in glassmaking and how she combines digital technology with traditional glass making methods.
Laura Quinn's Tacit Dimension II. Photo credit: Sylvain Deleu
Laura said, “My work for Collect, Tacit Bodies, combines glass blowing with lamp working, which is when you use a propane flame over 1200 degrees celsius to shape and sculpt glass. Blowing glass and lampworking are my specialisms within glass, so I wanted to combine the two. What you produce in lampworking can be so lovely and intricate while blowing allows you to make bigger structures.”
“When I was in Plymouth, doing my MA, I was always trying to bring the general audience closer to the material, to understand it and break beyond the taboo that glass is too fragile to touch. Inspired by Michael Polanyi’s term ‘tacit knowledge’, my work has the main structure of blown glass, with sections of lamp worked components in a flexible membrane, allowing smaller sections to be highly tactile and welcoming human touch. I want to go in the face of ‘don’t touch the artwork’!”
“It’s going to be incredible to be at a real life event. It’s been great how different galleries have pushed how they present their work online, doing online exhibitions, but people are definitely craving getting to real exhibitions and events. As my art is all about touch, you can’t really do that through a computer screen! I’m looking forward to meeting lots of people and seeing how they engage with the work. I’m excited to see how the theory behind it is going to play out.”
During the pandemic, Laura developed a video series of YouTube videos, called ‘Home Glass Hacks’, demonstrating simple and easy ways to blow, cut and construct glass pieces without the need for large specialist equipment.
Laura Quinn's Tacit Dimension I. Photo credit: Sylvain Deleu
“Life after graduating has been a bit of a roller coaster. When I left Plymouth, I went straight up to Farnham, Surrey, where I’m working as a glass technical tutor at the University of Creative Arts. When I started, we were working from home, but it was actually brilliant. It pushed me to develop ways to help my students learn about glass from home, which turned into my Home Glass Hacks series on YouTube. That period at home, away from equipment, made me realise it's not all about having access to specialist equipment, it took me back to the basics and what I can learn from the material on a basic level.
“As a result, I ended up setting a tiny little studio at my home with a lampworking set up, which has made such a difference. It meant I could say yes to commissions, be part of exhibitions and make new work. I was able to take part in an event called Create, at Brown Thomas, Ireland’s equivalent of Selfridges, which dotted makers and designers around their store in Dublin. Being able to make work from home for a luxury market was a phenomenal experience.”
“My time in Plymouth really let me springboard from my degree. The model of learning at Plymouth College of Art, especially Workshop Wednesdays, gave it that sense of an open door policy. Going into different departments, trying different techniques and using new equipment was invaluable to progressing so quickly in my career, despite the pandemic. That doesn’t happen everywhere and it’s something that the college does so well. They don’t just say it’s interdisciplinary practice, they genuinely back that up.”
Laura Quinn's Tacit Light. Photo credit: Sylvain Deleu
You can see Laura’s work on Stand S12 at Collect 22 at Somerset House in London from 25 to 27 February with private viewings available to industry professionals such as collectors and curators on 23 February and members of the public on 24 February. Keep up to date with Laura’s work on her website or via her Instagram profile.
Whether your interest in glass is casual or professional, Plymouth College of Art invites you to Melting Pot: Hot Glass Gathering, an international glass blowing symposium that we’re hosting on March 18 and 19 2022, as part of the UK's national celebrations for the United Nations-designated International Year of Glass. Beginners and professionals in glass, as well as members of the public, are invited to experience the drama and beauty of hot glass, blown in real time by some of the world’s leading glass artists.