‘Inversion (Filigrana)’


Describing his exhibition piece, Scott Benefield says: ‘Many people working in craft disciplines pursue parallel careers doing serial production and making unique pieces. In my own practice I make of range of functional objects for sale in Fortnum & Mason, but show something quite different at the British Glass Biennale. They are two separate but related approaches and that duality—and all that it implies about the status of objects, the history of craft media and your identity as a maker—has often been the subject of my exhibition work.

I began work on this series by creating small tableaux of simple, functional forms, wanting to explore the overlap of transparent hues that would create virtual shapes by the varying saturations of colour. The unique ability of glass to transmit light and create very pure colours was the quality that first drew me to the material, although I have been working with a much more restrained palette for the past ten years. These small compositions coalesced into still life arrangements on a footed platter, which acted as a framing device and, along with the use of a single hue, gave the assemblage a unified visual coherence.

Using the same objects that are the mainstay of my production line but deconstructing them or giving them a new context keeps me engaged in the heritage of glassblowing—making multiples, working with traditional techniques, relying on rotational symmetry—but gives me the occasional opportunity flex more creative muscles.

The thought of turning everything upside down had something to do with looking at the work of the American sculptor Tony Matelli, but it also says something about the ambiguous position of functionality in contemporary crafts. Making useful objects, which has provided me with a living for the past 33 years, is a disqualifying activity in certain strata of fine crafts (perhaps less so in the UK than in the US). Drilling and bolting everything together with standard fittings, in order to be able to invert these pieces and assemble them into one object, adds a note of absurdity in the pursuit of a necessary, practical objective.’

Description: Assemblage of functional blown glass objects held together by nylon hardware

Measurements: 33cm dia x 21cm H

Artist Bio

Scott Benefield received his MFA from Ohio State University in 1990 and operated glassblowing studios in the US until relocating to the UK in 2009. He has been a Fellow at the Creative Glass Center of America and an artist-in-residence at the  Toledo Museum of Art, the National College of Art & Design (Dublin), North Lands  Creative Glass, Vrij Glas, Pittsburgh Glass Center, the Corning Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Museum of Glass. He has taught workshops in Italian cane techniques at the Corning Museum of Glass, Penland School of Crafts, the Pilchuck Glass School,  Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, UrbanGlass, the National College of Art and  Design, the Glass Furnace, Bildwerk and was a visiting scholar at Osaka University of the Arts in 2009. In 2011 he was given the Lifetime Membership Award from the  Glass Art Society and in 2013 was a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST)  recipient. In 2015 he received the Rosemary James Memorial Award from the Arts  Council of Northern Ireland. His work is held in several public and private  collections, including the Tacoma Museum of Glass, the National Glass Centre, the  Arts Council of Northern Ireland, North Lands Creative Glass and the Sir Elton John  Collection.