Tansey Contemporary is pleased to present “A Breathing Landscape,” a solo exhibition of new works by internationally-renowned Australian glass artist Clare Belfrage October 19 thru November 19, 2018 at the Canyon Road gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This show marks the first U.S. exhibition of Belfrage’s work following her 2018 South Australian Living Artist designation, which recognizes the work of leading practitioners from the region who have considerable national and international influence in their chosen field. Belfrage will be present for the opening on Friday October 19 and will also give a presentation in the afternoon of October 20 at the gallery.
“A Breathing Landscape” continues Belfrage’s exploration of the natural world through her contemplative, elegant glass works. The exhibition features work from two new series, Shedding and Close Impressions, that examine tree skins in shape, color, pattern, and texture. She incorporates shards of colored glass to create a surface rhythm with patterns resembling the texture of peeling bark. In the Shedding works, Belfrage overlaps rough hewn elements in soft tones that gently twist around the form. Close Impressions takes a more abstracted view of bark and integrates cane drawing with segments of cut glass. These works explore boundaries and the idea of the edge as the patches press into the line drawing, creating tension between the linear and organic. Additionally, the show includes work from her In Deep and Quiet Shifting series. Inspired by monoliths and the Australian Alps, the pieces in her Quiet Shifting body of work feature voluminous shapes and the smooth surfaces of time-worn rocks. The pieces from her In Deep series echo the undulating surfaces of water with aqueous color palettes ranging from sea foam green to ultramarine blue.
Known for her use of intricate and delicate cane drawing, Belfrage introduces the concept of time to the traditionally fast-paced art of glassblowing with this technique. Belfrage applies each thread or stringer to slowly build up the pattern. Belfrage says, “When absorbed by the natural world, the enduring inspiration for my work, part of my experience of wonder is the contemplation of Time - the way Time is described, measured, and held. It can feel frozen or captured, it can feel sped up, dense with energy, it can feel fleeting, and it can feel endless.” The rhythmic action of the cane drawing imbues the work with the essence of its making.
Belfrage’s intense yet meditative patterns mimic those found in the texture of tree bark, the veins of a leaf, the spiral of a seashell, or ocean currents. Yet despite their seemingly consistent repetitions and rhythms, Belfrage introduces what she calls interruptions or aberrations into the pattern as another indication of time and the pressures of change. She says, “The rhythms within the natural world that I observe and work to bring into my making mark out movement through time, evidence of the life that is lived, expressing growth, aging, shedding, mapping, and binding.”
Belfrage’s cold working techniques of etching, grinding, sandblasting, and pumice polishing add to her subtle yet complex structures and patterns. While the sandblasted surfaces negate the reflective surface of the glass, Belfrage maintains the material’s luminosity, translucency, and refractive qualities. Her layered, patterned, and opaque surfaces create depth akin to an abstract painting that pull the viewer in for closer examination.
Belfrage lives and works in Adelaide, South Australia. She has maintained a vibrant practice as an active member of both Adelaide and Canberra, Australia’s artistic communities as a founding member of Blue Pony glass studio, former Creative Director of Canberra Glassworks, and studio member at JamFactory, Australia’s longest-running hot glass studio. She graduated from Monash University in Melbourne with a BFA. A two-time winner of the Tom Malone Glass Prize, Belfrage most recently received the 2016 FUSE Glass Prize and the 2018 South Australian Living Artist award. Her work is represented in major public collections such as New York’s Corning Museum of Glass, Portugal's Museu de Vidro, Marinha Grande, Washington State’s Tacoma Museum of Glass, and several museums in Australia including the National Art Glass Collection and the Australian National Gallery.