Blow Your Sculpture is a collaborative project to explore and introduce glass as an expressive medium by inviting artists from other media, and our small South African glass fraternity itself, to make blown glass sculptures.
In its third iteration since 2014, Blow Your Sculpture is rapidly evolving into a substantial collaborative project breaking new boundaries.
Our first project was part of the Cool Capital biennial in 2014 which exhibited the final works at Modern Art Projects (and are part of their permanent collection now).
Thereafter BYS took place in 2016, coinciding with Cool Capital. We hosted an open air exhibition at the Pretoria Botanical Gardens and thereafter at the Pretoria Art Museum.
The basic idea with BYS is to introduce non-glass artists, designers, architects and the like to the possibilities glass has to offer. Artists are invited to make a mould or have a concept to shape hot glass.
This year Blow Your Sculpture takes place at Smelt Glass Studio in Victoria Yards, Johannesburg. Smelt is one of the shining stars in South Africa’s local glass community run by Martli Jansen van Rensburg and Mike Hyam.
Blow Your Sculpture’s desired result is to grow the hand-made glass industry in South Africa. Through new processes and challenges, individual participants bring new ideas and concepts to the hotshop – which at times seems like a baptism of fire for both the participant as well as the skilled blowers.
Key to this is the unbiased outsider nature of the artist’s concepts. Artists not familiar with glass have ideas which at times can be quite challenging, especially for the skilled blowers, yet open new avenues through problem solving on the fly.
So far every creative has brought something new to the hotshop floor. Although the basic combination of fire, sand and air to form molten glass is the same, the results speak of individual voices expressing themselves through an almost unpredictable process in an unfamiliar milieu.