At Curtis glass studio with Harriet Schwarzrock
Christine M Knight visits with artists Sally Simpson and Harriet Schwarzrock and Matthew Curtis
In September, I had the unique pleasure of visiting two of the varied list of artists featured in this year’s Queanbeyan Art Trail. My first stop was at the rural studio of sculptor, Sally Simpson, situated in Wamboin. Her most recent accolades are the 2016 Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council Art Awards and finalist in the 2016 Blake Prize Award.
It was an easy drive from Queanbeyan through a vibrant, gently undulating landscape where wildlife abound. As I drove up the driveway to Sally’s studio, I passed mobs of unperturbed kangaroos, many of them with joeys boldly leaning out of their mother’s pouches to graze, indifferent to my passing car.
Sally met me at her large rectangular studio, south of her house, which is where she will meet visitors who follow the Queanbeyan Art Trail on 30 October. The council’s program for that day lists open times and other relevant details for all artists on show. (See website below)
Born and bred in Glenelg, South Australia, Sally studied at the South Australian Art School before moving to Sydney where she furthered her study at UNSW College of Fine Arts (COFA). Later, she travelled extensively overseas where she immersed herself in museums and evolving forms of art.
Currently, her sculptures Objects for an Unknown Future Museum are on exhibition at Stanley Street Gallery Sydney and The Lake Mokoan Series is on display at Benalla Regional Gallery.
Sally’s projects capture moments in time past and present. Her intention is to represent the present for an unknown future museum. She works in natural materials of varied and subtle hues found during her walking explorations of landscape: pieces of coral, marine rope, skeletal remains, and so on. She has an amazing collection of materials that will interest visitors as will her account of her sources of inspiration and varied sculptural techniques.
An overarching theme in Sally’s work is the marking of time and the passing of value systems related to specific times and places. For instance, her sculpture Berry Palms symbolically represents the demise of the vast rainforests that once stretched over southern coastal NSW, south of Wollongong and north of Nowra, as human settlement populated the landscape.
Her sculpture Cattle Cross functions as a requiem for the demise of a later landscape in that region, the dairy industry, as primary producers gave way to the modern age of tourism and urban life on the south coast.
I found Sally’s studio exhibition fascinating and thought provoking. Readers can learn more by going to www.sallysimpson.com.au
Glass art at Curtis Studio
From Wamboin, I drove to the Curtis Studio, Queanbeyan, situated in a visually appealing warehouse in the Curtis’ backyard. www.curtisglassart.com
As I walked up the driveway past the adjacent Pet Shop, I felt like I travelled through a portal into another realm. I met glass artists and sculptors Harriet Schwarzrock and Matthew Curtis at the rear of the house. Schwarzrock is Harriet’s professional name.
Matthew and one of their sons were busy readying for an installation at the Canberra Glassworks. The family were also busy packing glass art for the critically acclaimed Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair (SOFA) in Chicago this November.
A variety of galleries from around the world attend SOFA and invite artists to come along. Kirra Gallery based in Melbourne invited Harriet. Habatat Gallery based in Detroit represent Matthew. Their work is widely collected and prized.
The couple use glass as an artistic medium to produce internationally prized three-dimensional artworks. Their exquisite glass objects make sculptural and decorative statements.
Matthew creates organic, architecturally sympathetic symmetrical glass structures whereas Harriet creates organic asymmetrical artwork inspired by nature, balance, stillness in movement, and fluidity.
Harriet and Matthew use a variety of techniques: cold work, hot work, glass blowing, glass casting, glass fusing, moulding, grinding, and so on. Visitors to the Curtis Studio learn a lot about this art form from demonstrations as well as informative and engaging talks.
Harriet grew up in Northbridge Sydney and trained at Sydney College of the Arts at the Rozelle Campus of Sydney University. Born in England, Matthew and his family moved to Australia when he was a teenager. He did an apprenticeship with Robert Wynne at Denizen Studios in Sydney.
Through that studio, Matthew worked with a seminal and internationally influential artist, Dale Chihuly, in the 1990s. Matthew worked on Dale’s team for a big glass installation at the Sydney Botanical Gardens and at another time an installation for the National Gallery.
Queanbeyan-Palerang is blessed with a wide range of talented artists who produce exciting and vibrant works.’ I know that visitors following the Queanbeyan Art Trail on 30th October will find it a literal adventure and an adventure of the mind. I did.
Program on the Art Trail can be found on QPRC website.