Award-winning artwork shares gratitude

30 August 2022

Gratitude has been the inspiration behind an award-winning artwork' created by glassblower and CQUniversity School of Access Education Associate Lecturer Michelle Gray.

A collaboration with fellow artist Raelene Bock' Rich Harve$t was the winning entry in the Three Dimensional Works category of the annual Central Highlands Regional Council Art Awards 2022 - Emerald.

Michelle is a self-taught glassblower who has been honing her skills since 1992.

She said the hollow blown glass and recycled metal artwork represented things they are thankful for.

'We are living in a world of the $12 lettuce – who would have thought?' Michelle said.

'Yet we need to stop and think of the things for which we must be grateful.

'Our country is not ravaged by war. Our district is not the one succumbing to severe flooding...this time. Our town does not require us to travel extensive distances at inflated fuel prices.

'We have great friends' great family...and we have art!

'Our bountiful basket of goodies represents our collections of things for which we are thankful and we hope it brings joy to the viewer.'

The Emerald Art Awards attracted 132 entries across seven categories. All entries to the Emerald Art Awards are on display at the Emerald Art Gallery until Sept 17.

Michelle has also been running a series of workshops to celebrate the International Year of Glass' thanks to funding through the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF).

The bead making and glass fusing workshops' held in Emerald' proved popular' with each student provided with an array of Venetian glass rods' a blow torch and gas set-up. Safety equipment was also provided.

Students were taught the safety procedures of working with glass' the science behind glass melting and the technique of forming and sculpting hot glass to make beads and pendants.

'I wanted to share my love of art and glass in an affordable way'' she said.

'RADF is fantastic for bringing art to people who otherwise might not have the means or accessibility to do so on their own' especially when it comes to melting glass.

'It's a little bit dangerous – which makes it all the more fun and challenging.

'It has been wonderful to see people of all ages come out and have a try at hot glass work. I would love to host more workshops in the future.'

Michelle recently teamed up with the Outback Exploratorium to present several workshops to coincide with National Science Week.

Community workshops saw participants cut and grind their own glass by upcycling a glass bottle into a vase or drinking vessel; glass fusing in a small microwave kiln; melting glass over a gas torch to form sculpted and moulded glass flowers; and using resin to imprint onto glass with botanical specimens.

She also gave a demonstration to Junior Science Squad members on making glass marbles and blown glass objects. Senior Science Squad members were given a demonstration on glass blown objects and were able to try making a glass bead. Both squads were able to learn how to cut and fuse glass.

Online sessions were also held' featuring QUT chemist and cold working glass artist Aaron Micallef' who gave a presentation about glass in science and gave a live demonstration of glass engraving.

A Harvard Glass Flowers online session gave participants a live tour of the famous Ware Collection of glass flower specimens created in the 1800s by the Blaschka Brothers.