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  • As Spinnaker

Anthony Scala

"bending the laws of 3D space..."

 meet anthony scala Image

meet anthony scala

Anthony Scala has worked at London Glassblowing under Peter Layton’s guidance for over 14 years and his unique technical style won him international recognition as early as 2005, when he became the youngest artist ever to win the prestigious Glass Sellers Award.

Optical illusion is at the heart of his work. Perception is dependant upon light, angle and distance from an object. ‘Is what we see actually there or is it a trick of the light’? Take a step in any direction and the perceived image of an object can change. These shifting perceptual qualities have come to dominate Anthony’s work, and are clearly an infinite source of inspiration. 

Anthony’s pieces utilise these quirks of perception to their maximum effect through the use of meticulously made refractive components, painstakingly pieced together. The end result being beautifully constructed optical sculptures which seem to bend the laws of three dimensional space.


After completing his training in architectural model making in 1999, Anthony began an apprenticeship at London Glassblowing, where he first discovered an aptitude towards coldworking (the meticulous process of cutting and polishing glass once cold).

Over the following years, Anthony experimented with various glass disciplines, as well as incorporating many unusual materials into his work. However, there is always a strong architectural aesthetic at the root of Anthony’s creations, which he puts down to his architectural background.

‘As an artist, my model making training has proved invaluable, as it has given me a unique perspective from which to approach my work both in hot, and cold glass, not to mention the discipline and patience needed for the sheer time scale many of my projects require’.

In 2005 at the age of 27, Anthony won the prestigious ‘Glass Sellers Award’ (other recipients include Alison Kinnard, Colin Reid, Richard Jackson, and Bob Crooks) making him one of the youngest ever recipients of the Glass Sellers main prize.

Over the past fifteen years Anthony’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout the UK. Featured exhibitions include the British Glass Biennale (2004, 2006, 2008, & 2012), Modern & Contemporary Glass at Bonhams 2009, Remarkable Glass at Contemporary Applied Arts 2010 and Collect at the Saatchi Gallery.

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the interview

To say Anthony has his head down at the moment is something of an understatement. With Collect just weeks away, it’s been a fraught last few
months as he puts the finishing touches to his collection. He admits to having Christmas Day off, but will work through his 40th birthday – a fortnight before Collect – and celebrate once the show closes.


“Collect is naturally really important for people. It used to be in May which felt a lot more manageable but having it in February means most of the winter
months are pretty full on. “All the artists are vying for blowing time and although the gallery was closed there were people in all over Christmas.”
Is he happy with what he’ll be showing this year?
“I put all my eggs in one basket last year, making just two very big pieces. Neither sold at Collect but one sold to a chap who saw it at Collect and the other – my major piece – was bought by a lady who lives in Maine and has collected my work for some time. Amazingly she took it back in her hand luggage. I was petrified, especially as it was £16,000. I spent a day making lots of sponge cushions for every corner and wrapping it in bubble wrap. I told her to be very careful when showing customs officials and to take photos of it beforehand so they would know what they were looking at. Thankfully it got there in one piece!”
This year’s work is smaller in size and, given 2019 will be Anthony’s 20th year in glass, it’s the beginning of a retrospective. “I’ve decided to revisit several ideas I’ve had over the years and rejigged them…approaching them with more practised hands.

“I’m doing a group of scent bottles called Orrery Bottles – an old medieval device for plotting paths of planets. They were the first things I made in this cut, polished way. I’ve really enjoyed making them bigger with a bit of colour and crisper.

“I would say in terms of hot work versus cold work you are looking at 5% hot, 95% cold. A huge, huge shift. If I spent a day blowing the bottles it would take
a further four to six months to cold work them. It’s hugely time consuming.”

Anthony will also be displaying his record-keeper bottles – crystalline forms he first made five years ago, incorporating precious metals such as silver and
Damascus steel.

“It’s quite nostalgic to return to these but nice to be able to correct some of those childhood mistakes you made way back. It’s psychologically draining
through, having half a dozen bottles on the go and each one requiring a different mindset.” Other work includes two Annulum pieces, Spinnaker and three keepsake pods he made for an earlier show.

“I just really enjoyed making those pieces and people really like them. It is quite a lot of work but this is going to be quite something. “Yes, my style of work is an acquired taste. Peter’s work is very approachable- beautiful soft shapes, three-dimensional canvas quality and splashed in bright colour. He would be Mozart…lovely tunes but music that everyone likes. I’m Stravinksy or Wagner – challenging to get into but worth persevering.

“Some may not sell for years. Tell me one other 21st Century career in capital city where you put on a full day’s work and you may or may not get paid for it?”
So what has changed for him in the last 20 years?

“It’s strange because you look back on progression and sometimes you think not much has changed, even though it has. Initially when I started out I was
making mistakes all the time. Then I made less, then hardly any and then you get good at pre-empting them. You begin to know where problems will come.
“Of course it’s always odd when students come up to you and ask for advice. They’re really paying attention and it’s wonderful but sometimes you just don’t
realise how much experience you’ve got because I just live and breathe this all day every day.”

Yet despite this artistic myopia, one of Anthony’s most exciting experiences of 2017 was an award-winning collaboration with Cathryn Shilling. “We won the Craft and Design award at the biennale in August and it really was one of the most enjoyable pieces I’ve worked on,” he says enthusiastically.
“For me it was like taking a holiday from the persona I was known for; a blank canvas to do something which ended up being such a lot of fun. It was the pure essence of the word synergy.”

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