|Hope, (detail), 2016|
q. Jacqueline Hi and thanks for your time today. Tell me about your background as an artist working with glass and sculpture?
a. It began in 2006 as a form of self therapy if you will. I was in the early stages of coping with the aftermath of a traumatic period in my life and learning to live with Complex PTSD and a friend suggested I find something to do with my hands so I did and glass was it! Slowly the process of what began as very simple hand cut glass stars became a source of peace...a meditation if you will, playing with colour and patience.
I’d moved to my little home in Dalwood, Northern NSW as an escape and the ‘shed’ became consumed by my pursuits within a couple of years. Glass became my lifeline and literally saved my life, reformatted my brain and gave me a gift I did not expect.
The imaginings come to me in the space between wakefulness and sleep and although I often used to lose hope during their creation I have learned to have faith and persevere and so the imaginings continue to flow. Almost as if I am just the tool...my body, my existence became the tool for simply trusting the flow and making it real. Largely being self taught meant I had to learn a whole lot of new skills in order to see each vision made visible.
|Yielding, Glass Installation, Northern Rivers Community Gallery, Ballina|
q. How did this fabulous exhibition on now at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery in Ballina come about?
a. Looking back on my work it became apparent I had two themes appearing unintentionally. One was the fragile beautiful environment we experience here in Australia and the other the fragile nature of my own mental health. I had long held hope that one day I could merge these themes and create a body of work that truely put voice to what I had no words for.
After ten years of experimentation in glass ‘Yielding’ is as close as I’d ever imagined I would come.
Each glass form has been intuitively created to reveal the tension of my own existence, indeed perhaps all existence, where safety and permanence are illusion yet equally present in each magnificent breath we take.
q. Perhaps one the most astonishing aspects to your installation is the inherent fragility of the works?
a. The fragility is definitely intentional and integral to what I was trying to whisper and shout.
q. Tactility. I found myself both seduced and captivated by this fragility and while observing the works I felt an overwhelming need to touch them, a taboo in the art gallery more often than not?
a. I hope it is the organic aspect of the works that originally draws you in. I held vision for each to not seem made of glass but rather something elemental, dew, ice, lava, blood, snow, gold, spun silk. I hoped they became so visceral that they were magnetic and this was my delight when on the first day I wandered around the gallery space anonymously and observed a group of mature visitors (who usually are those well versed in the usual rules of galleries where touching works has long been forbidden, hearing words from stern parents of “look with your eyes not your fingers”) and held my breath as each one touched several works including some of the most fragile. My job was done!
q. In some measure we as humans have this innate dual sense of creation and destruction, and I wonder whether this sense of tactility that your works produce is in some way tapped into this innate sensibility in some deep archetypal way, the tension we feel throughout our lives with the shared capacity/ simultaneity for creation and destruction?
a. I love that you’ve raised this in such an insightful way...it is the essence of the experience of deep trauma and the breakthrough that is possible, the re-birthing that is both violent and divine. This is accessed by all who would seek that most universal truth of love (what we must learn in order to fully live and transcend our sleeping states) as love will destroy if it deems this is the way to wake us, just as surely as it will fill our hearts with awe.
|48 Threads, 2016|
q. Can you tell me in some detail about your process, from concept to creation?
a. The vision side I’ve pretty much covered already but in this body of work all the pieces were deliberately kiln formed work rather than the cold glass work I also do. This also was intentional as I wanted some kind of alchemy in play that I felt only the heat of my kiln could deliver. Each piece has had multiple firings to temperatures ranging between 565 degree Celsius (in the case of the glass nest ‘Hope’ to 790 degrees Celsius for full fused works. Many include multiple techniques from flame working, powdered crackle glass through to pattern bar inlays.
q. Artist Julianne Zoviar Clunne was telling me about one particular work, 48 Threads that has a series of tender "tendrils" signifiying each year of your life?
a. True, ‘48 Threads’. It’s a vessel made from 48 flame-worked hand pulled canes of clear glass, one for each year of my life so far, held together by kiln firing at tack fuse temperature variable sized clear frit in the centre and again on an uneven edge. It is approx 16” diameter and has then been slumped into an irregular form created in fibre blanket. I wanted it to appear unspeakably fragile yet compellingly beautiful so as to reflect my journey so far on this place we call earth which itself spins miraculously at the edge of oblivion.
q. As a sympatico artist here equally inspired and transformed by the effects of trauma, I was intrigued to read something about your own direct lived experience of living with CPTSD and how it influences your work as an artist, in particular the choice of your medium Jacqueline, and the intrinsic fragility of glass. Tell me about this impulse in your work?
a. Glass chose me rather than the other way around. Call it serendipity but there is a connection between the two best characterised by something I heard once on the radio by a leading UK Trauma Psychiatrist who described PTSD something like this...
“Imagine you are a beautiful glass vase with exquisite colour and form sitting on a sideboard and much admired. When major trauma happens the beautiful glass vase that you are gets knocked off the table and smashes on the floor splintering into thousands of pieces. Most rush quickly to gather the pieces and try valiantly to hold it all together, to appear like they used to be by holding all the pieces together with anything they can. But there is no way to do this of course.
Some, with good therapeutic support coupled with the support of loving family and community, will slowly learn that there is no becoming what they were...but they just might become a beautiful mosaic instead!”
q. Thanks Jacqueline, wow, and tell me something of the most challenging aspects of making these distinctive glass works?
a. The most challenging aspect was ensuring each piece was really raw and really me. Two works were held back from display by the Director, Lee Mathers who described them as ‘restrained’ and she was absolutely right...I wanted to stretch every skill I had in each work...synthesize 10 years of glass making and squeeze all its juice into new territory using all the experience, all the pain, all the magnificence, all the qualities unique to me and to glass into each piece. May I be blessed to live another 10 years to try again.
q. And one or two of the most satisfying and/or consoling aspects of making these exquisite works?
a. Ahh, what I feel inside is made visible! I watch my hands do things to make what is in my fibre and barely know how it occurs...like breathing.
q. What are you working on now Jacqueline?
a. I’m about to start a commission window, right off track from this series, but it’s for a well loved an respected author who has a home north of here and it has been commissioned by a circle of women who radiate love.
It will be made from the last batch of Spectrum Waterglass in the world as sadly one of the worlds best glass manufacturers has recently shut its doors in the US so I’m excited to get this project underway.
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