Alison Kinnaird was the Winner of the Glass Sellers Arts and Crafts Award in 2004 – she is a glass sculptor, Celtic musician, teacher and writer born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1949. She is one of the foremost and most original modern glass engravers in Scotland. we caught up with her recently and she’s written this:-
GLASS AND LIGHT – ALISON KINNAIRD MBE
Since winning the Glass Sellers Award in 2004 with my piece ‘Psalmsong’ – now in the permanent collection of the Scottish Parliament – I have had many projects which have opened up innovative and exciting ways for me to use engraved glass.
I’ve been engraving for 50 years, and though wheel-engraving takes years to master, I now feel that my ideas are not limited in any way by the technique. On the contrary, there are always new things to discover! With the advice and assistance of my husband, Robin Morton, we have developed methods of incorporating fibre-optics or LEDs with the engraving, in large panels such as ‘Streetwise I’, in the Alexander Tutsek-Foundation in Munich, or ‘Maze’ – a commission from the National Museums of Scotland, in which the LEDs are programmed to change in sequence.
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery asked me to create the Donor Window, to thank the generous patrons who had contributed to the Gallery’s refurbishment. I was asked to mirror the layout of the original Victorian Donor Window, but invited to interpret it in my own way. It involved 13 portraits of the donors – a demanding commission – for which I had to invent a new method of engraving on both sides of flashed glass, in order to see the imagery at a distance.
This technique was taken a step further in windows and doors for St Mary’s Church, Kenardington, Kent. Because of their scale and weight, it was necessary to develop a way of reverse lamination, so the engraved glass is bonded to a toughened carrier glass, thus dispensing with the need for leading.
I have carried on these techniques in my own exhibition work, recently in my three ‘Timepiece’ panels. The first, ‘Subway Photographer’, includes 63 small portraits, and shows how we pass through each other’s lives in the click of a shutter. The ‘Astronomer’, on the other hand, looks through her lens at the timeless universe beyond. In the ‘Graffiti Artist’, these two themes are linked by the background designs, which are adapted from motifs on the Neolithic tombs of Scotland and Ireland. Given a contemporary treatment, they tell how, over thousands of years, we are still trying to make sense of our place, here and now.
I will be showing these panels, and other new work which has resulted from our present isolation such as ‘Lockdown’, in a solo ‘open-studio’ exhibition in our home, a converted church in the historic village of Temple in the Scottish Borders.
It is scheduled to take place for the month of August and probably beyond that, by which time we hope that people will feel comfortable coming to visit us in small numbers, or by special appointment.
Details nearer the time will be on my website, and you are able to see more about my work at – www.alisonkinnaird.com