The Contemporary Glass Society (CGS) was established in 1997 to represent the interests of national and international glassmakers.
Peter Layton had been a member of an earlier organisation, British Artists in Glass, which was disbanded in the early 1990s. Shortly afterwards, Peter was inspired to start a new society and invited a group of 60 artists to his previous studio in the Leathermarket, where as Colin Reid remembers, ‘a lively discussion to consider future steps’ took place. Following subsequent meetings between Peter Layton, Colin Reid, Andrew Brewerton, Mark Angus, Liz Swinburne and Pete Howard, a series of recommendations were proposed that informed the formation of The Contemporary Glass Society.
In 2022, we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the CGS. Having grown over the years into a thriving and proactive society supporting a membership of over 1000, Peter is still a guiding light and one of the foremost promoters of contemporary glass in the UK. One of the CGS' aims during the year was to reflect and acknowledge their debt of gratitude to those who came before and to showcase their strong heritage and development over the past 25 years. In recognition of this, the CGS were delighted to work with London Glassblowing on an exhibition focused on collaboration – between different artists, different techniques and different materials.
The CGS challenged their members to create work that is a celebration of the natural world in which we live. Thus the theme Earth / Sea / Sky was born, and we were delighted to receive over 60 applications from both emerging and established artists. This was a juried exhibition with the final selection made by Peter Layton, David Reekie and myself. A total of 50 artists and 95 works, including pieces by Peter Layton and David Reekie were hand selected for the final exhibition, which was on display at London Glassblowing in July 2022.
This was the third CGS exhibition that I have curated at London Glassblowing’s Bermondsey Street Gallery. The first was Black to White and Back Again in 2016 and the second was Inspired in 2019. Each exhibition has brought something very exciting to the gallery. However, Earth / Sea / Sky stands out in particular because of the sheer number of works that have been made to a wonderfully high standard using a variety of different techniques, by many new artists.
I was very happy to be asked to curate this show on behalf of the CGS because this organisation has given me so many opportunities, especially at the beginning of my professional practice. The CGS nurtures and supports up-and-coming artists in so many ways, such as:
- Through the annual Graduate Prize and Graduate Review.
- Sending weekly information out about opportunities for artists for professional development, exhibitions, conferences etc.
- Through their informative and active website, full of opportunities.
- Organising group exhibitions for members across the country.
- Hosting weekly talks from artists and informed people, that members can watch either live or as recordings later. There are now over 100 recordings on the website available to members.
- Through the Glass Network, a print magazine which is sent to members twice a year, full of images of work and interesting articles.
CGS: Earth / Sea / Sky
If you would like further information, our friendly gallery team are available to answer any queries you may have.
Article by Cathryn Shilling
Article Edited by Isabel Gilchrist