National Art Glass Collection
Left to Right: Emma Varga, Red red sky burning #1, 2004, cast and fused glass
Sergio Redegalli, Untitled, cut clear glass, laminated, sandstone
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery's National Art Glass Collection is the most comprehensive public collection of Australian studio glass. It reflects diversity in style, subject and technique in contemporary practice as a continuous record of the glass community's achievements and evolution from the 1970s to the present. The significance of the Collection was acknowledged in 1992 when it was officially designated the National Art Glass Collection.
The use of glass as a medium for artistic expression enjoyed a major revival in the United States in the 1960's. At this time technical developments made it possible for individual artists to work in private studios and freed them from the factory model of production. This gave rise to the term 'studio glass' and the artistic phenomenon known as the 'studio glass movement'. This movement emerged in Australia in the early 1970s.
Full-time tertiary courses in glass were established in the late 1970's, beginning with the South Australian College of Art (1976), Caulfield Institute of TAFE (1978) and Canberra School of Art (1982). Wagga Wagga's own Riverina College of Advanced Education, which later became a campus of Charles Sturt University, introduced glass into the ceramics curriculum in 1978.
Since 1990 through to the present day, international opportunities and recognition for Australian glass artists have become paramount. With several generations of Australian glass artists now devoted to serious professional practice, a dynamic and competitive glass sector has prospered.
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery instituted a policy to collect Australian contemporary glass, and launched the first of its national survey exhibitions of glass in 1981. From small beginnings, the Collection has now grown to over 600 pieces, the largest in the country. In 1999 the National Art Glass Collection was relocated to its own architect designed gallery within the precinct of the Wagga Wagga Civic Centre.
Matthew Curtis, Amber constructed bowl, 2007, blown and constructed sheet glass, bonded, stainless steel rim
Wagga Wagga Art Gallery launched the inaugural National Student Art Glass Prize in 2010, as a competition established to reward and promote innovation and excellence in contemporary glass within the student sector. Held every two years, the winning piece is acquired into the Collection and the winner receives an international masterclass for their professional development.
In 2016, the award was retitled the National Emerging Art Glass Prize, open to recent graduates as well as current students. The prize has become one of the highlights of the Australian art glass calendar, adding to the prestige of the National Art Glass Collection.
Inaugural launch of the National Student Art Glass Prize, March 2010 at the National Art Glass Gallery
The Studio Glass Movement in Australia
The Australian studio glass movement began in the early 1970s, following the American movement by a decade. The collection includes work by visiting artists in the early years that were invited to stimulate glass practice, as well as artists-in-residence from overseas.
Size and Sources of the Glass Collection
The Collection is the largest national public collection of Australian 'studio' glass and has currently approximately 500 works.
It has been built up and continues to grow with assistance from:
- Wagga Wagga City Council
- The National Student Art Glass Prize
- The Federal Government through the Australia Council
- The State Government through Arts NSW
- Philanthropy (Private Donation)
- Donations from Friends of the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery
- The Gallery's Glass Biennials and Triennials between 1979 and 1994 were an excellent mechanism for bringing quality works to Wagga Wagga and many additions to the collection came from these exhibitions.
Robert Murray, Coolamons 2008, painted and kiln-formed glass, perspex
Purchase funded by Wagga Wagga City Council, 2008
The Kerfoot Collection of Australian studio glass was begun in the late 1970's, and has gradually expanded to over 150 works, with many of Australia's leading glass artists represented by well chosen pieces. In 2009, forty-five exceptional pieces were donated by Joyce Kerfoot to the National Art Glass Collection, with the assistance of the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program. Many of these pieces are by artists not previously represented in the Collection; other pieces complement works already in the Collection by illuminating different periods or styles in their creators' artistic careers.
Richard Whiteley Easter, 1988, mosaic glass, pate de verre, fused, slumped and assembled
Donated by Joyce Kerfoot though the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Scheme, 2009
The Gibb Paperweight Collection forms one of the most important components of Wagga Wagga Art Gallery's National Art Glass Collection. Donated in 1997, the Paperweight Collection comprises sixty items from artists and firms specialing in the artform around the world, brought together over many years by Professor Cecil Austin Gibb and Mrs Margaret Gibb.