And so, now we’re looking at glass…
2014 began an intoxicating relationship with architectural glass; Matthew is now creating stunning one-off autonomous art glass panels suitable for installation in buildings or as free-standing pieces.
He has completed a commission for a large stained glass window to be installed in the old front doorway of a private house which stands in a wonderful position above the north coast of West Penwith, Cornwall. ‘Gwynver’ emerged from time spent exploring lesser known footpaths around Sennen and learning about the process of creating stained glass at Derix Glasstudios near Weisbaden, Frankfurt.
Derix Studios, established for 150 years, create masterpieces in glass for buildings all over the world and produced the Patrick Heron window which is a feature of Tate St Ives, in 1993. Matthew was fortunate in being invited to work as an artist in residence at the studios on several occasions over the year.
Gwynver (glass) 39 x 85 inches
Installation of the window began in gale force winds in July. A digger was ominously swinging its chain close-by as the precious glass was hurried down a steep drop from a lane to the half-completed house - a nerve wracking experience for all concerned. Barbara Derix, the studio director, was on site to oversee the installation along with her mother, the site manager Mike, a team of glaziers, Matthew and Judith as well as the owners of the property. There were remarkably no mishaps and the result was impressive; the entire company glowed with pleasure as the sun lit up the dusty room with glorious new colour. The couple who have recently bought the house and initiated the glass project as part of a major renovation, said: “It looks perfect - so subtle, and yet vibrant and striking. We will never tire of looking at it. And when we come down the stairs in the morning the sun rising behind it will flood the hall with these wonderful blues and greens and oranges.”
Barbara Derix and Mike Pelan on site.
Barbara Derix told everyone that she is very proud of the people at the studios who had worked on this intricate design and achieved the delicate effects Matthew wanted which had stretched them and added so much to the beauty of the piece. “I think this design looks like it absolutely belongs here,” she said. “Matthew has done a wonderful job. We are very pleased to have been involved in this project. We work on art glass projects at every scale; domestic, civic and corporate, from churches to airports. I’m thrilled to be here in West Cornwall putting the work of a local artist into a lovely house with a long history. I even love the wind here!”
In addition to the Gwynver commission the team at Derix studio have produced two more works for Matthew this year - Greenstone and Primavera.
Greenstone (glass) 56 ¼ x 29 1/8 inch
These two pieces will be exhibited at Porthminster Gallery, Westcotts Quay from 12th Sept and through October 2015 alongside Matthew’s most recent paintings in his solo show The Listening Sea. These two pieces are available either with, or without integral illumination from LED light panels.
Primavera (glass) 83 5/8 x 19 inches
Matthew said, reflecting on the process and the impact on his work as a painter, ‘Glass is a very seductive medium and when I began to realise that it was actually possible to make work which shines and glows inside like this, and still do full justice to complexity, I was hooked…who knows where it will go? My partnership with Derix studios, in particular Erik and Magdalena, has been a humbling adventure; they are the most superb glass makers. Together we are experimenting, pushing the boundaries and producing some breath-taking work which I hope will give pleasure to many people and spark their imaginative curiosity.’
‘I look forward to doing more commissions if something comes along. The interaction with my painting and the development of ideas into both strands of activity from the subtle processes of sandblasting, air-brushing, acid-etching and grading of colour in hand-blown antique and flash glass is very exciting. There is much to learn about glass: very few things cannot be achieved but the processes can be very time consuming at the production stage and you always need to retain a flexibility, whether client, artist or technician.
‘The range of glass and colours at Derix Glasstudios is probably the widest selection anywhere so choosing pieces often feels like being at the top of the world and a kid in a sweet shop. Fundamentally I feel that the art glass I’m making is like my painting: it is still about place and experience; hopefully a beautiful design emerges with a recognisable integrity and the work is brimming with surprise. Unlike a painting it has to consider the sky and the light, translucence and opacity, the place where it will be installed and the spirit of the people commissioning it. It may also need to give some privacy and insulation and be viewed pleasurably from outside as well as in. Everything is possible. I’m looking forward to some more tall orders.’
With thanks to the owners for permission to photograph Gwynver in situ.
Derix Glasstudios www.derix.com
Matthew Lanyon email@example.com
Judith Hodgkinson August 2015