The Swedish Glass Academy
 GAS News 2/2005

The Swedish Studio Glass Movement descends straight from the pioneers in America. As a young student, Åsa Brandt visited Sybren Valkema in Amsterdam 1966 and Sam Herman in London 1967. Back home, she built the first studio glass workshop in 1968.In Sweden today, studio glass is defined as glass from smaller workshops, where one or a few artists are fully responsible for the production, from design to manufacturing, marketing and sales. Studio glass artists work actively with glass, but they can hire assistants or specialists in order to perform the various tasks of creation. But as from the very beginning, studio glass stands for experimentation, freedom of expression, creativity and a passion for glass.

The traditional glass factories of Sweden are concentrated to a limited geographical area, marketed as the Swedish Glass Kingdom. The glass scene is dominated by a few big glass factories. But high quality art glass is also designed and created in studios, from Lapland in the north to the southernmost point of Sweden a thousand miles away.At the turn of the century the free glass artists felt that two things were urgent:

1. To create a platform to make the free studio glass more apparent.
2. To relate the history of Swedish studio glass and its influence on Swedish glass in general.

In May 2000, thirty glass artists founded Glasakademin, the Glass Academy. Glasakademin provides a forum for Swedish studio glass, with the aim of increasing the recognition and awareness of studio glass. It acts as a network for active glass artists outside the factories. New members are admitted on recommendation from two existing members, subject to approval by the annual general meeting.

During the past five years, much energy has been directed towards creating a museum for Swedish studio glass. In 2001, the Academy applied for a governmental grant and received 150.000 USD. This considerable sum of money confirmed the fact that studio glass is considered an important aspect of Swedish glass today. Originally, the museum was planned as an extension of Åsa Brandt's workshop and gallery, but we were not able to raise enough money to realize the project within a realistic timetable, so we had to change our direction.

At present, we can invite you to our virtual Museum for Studio Glass on the Internet, www.studioglas.com. There you can follow the history and development of Swedish studio glass, from its start through to the present day, including descriptions of the techniques used in glassworks and workshops, as well as presentations of the artists, with hundreds of photos of studio glass. In the Library you will find references to glass literature and current excerpts from international glass reviews. The museum offers an attractive forum, to which one can return in the search of inspiration and knowledge. It is enhanced by varied temporary exhibitions, and offers new sections as well as an expanding number of artists and the ever-growing archives of images.

We also invite you to visit the House of the Glass Academy, Glasakademins hus, a small villa adjacent to Anders Wingård's workshop in Simrishamn in southern Sweden, flowing with light reflected from the Baltic Sea.Here we are compiling a wonderful studio glass collection, based on depositions by the members of the Academy. The House contains a library of glass books, catalogues and magazines, an image data base with more than 2000 pictures, and our studio glass archives with clippings, invitation cards, leaflets, posters etc - the artists are at the moment searching their cellars and attics for documents.

The House is intended as a meeting place for glass artists, students, scholars, journalists, politicians and glass collectors and can be visited after booking, for information and inspiration. During the coming two years we shall be able to test our ideas for the future museum, focusing on the relation between the display of glass objects, easily accessible background material and multimedia presentations, to form an attractive representation of Swedish studio glass. Establishing a dialogue between history and the very exciting studio glass of today is a vital part of the concept.The final location and working forms of the public museum are still under negotiations.

The Glass Academy has 50 members today. Not all members are involved in the museum project. Others are more concerned with exhibitions, workshops, education, technical questions, international contacts and making the voices of the free glass artists heard in the public debate.

Simrishamn december 2004

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