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Lidded Vessel

In storage

Place of origin
Australian Capital Territory, Australia


Cut blown glass

Winner Calleen Award

Accession number

Excerpt from The Calleen Collection by Peter Haynes (2019)

Jane Bruce was born in Buckinghamshire in England and following undergraduate studies at Buckinghamshire College and the City of Leicester Polytechnic received an MA from the Royal College of Art in London in 1973. From 1979 to 1981 she undertook further postgraduate studies at the New York State College of Ceramics. Her teaching career is extensive included a period (1994-2004) in the Glass Workshop at the (then) ANU School of Art. Bruce has received numerous awards and prizes including Fellowships from the Creative Glass Centre of America and the New York Foundation for the Arts and a New Work Grant from the Australia Council. She exhibits internationally and her work is in many major collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Kunstsammlungen der Veste, Coburg; Museum fur Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the National Art Collection, Wagga Wagga; the Queensland Art Gallery and the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. She currently lives and works in New York.

Bruce’s winning work Lidded Vessel set a precedent for the Calleen Prize. It was the first time a 3-dimensional object won the award. The 2001 exhibition also saw for the first time a large number of 3-dimensional entries, these mostly ceramics but including a small selection of glass works. The ceramics contingent included some of Australia’s leading practitioners in that medium. Among them were Janet DeBoos, Jeff Mincham, Anita McIntyre, Alan Watt and Ros Auld. The inclusion of 3-dimensional work added another level to the exhibition and was the result of a restructure of the Prize promulgated by the building of the new gallery.

Lidded Vessel is a striking and commanding work. Its globular form is presented as two parts— the top white, the bottom black. The form is flowing and full, curving upward to a small opening. The top section (the “white”) essentially comprises the shoulder and neck of the vessel. It is dramatically enlivened by the inclusion of a swirling cohort of cicatrices cut into the white glass overlay to reveal the black body beneath. The cuts defiantly energise the spatial flow around the work as well as providing stark visual contrast to the white skin, the latter simultaneously contrasting with the black body. The formal relationship between the 2 parts is subtle but visually very clear. The black marks and their energetic thrust around the top are neatly constrained by the black density of the body and the black colour of the interior (seen through the top opening). The body is patterned with black-on-black spots and their overall presentation and integrated tonal absorption into the body offer quiet balance to the freneticism of the scarred top. Lidded Vessel is a powerful work and an important example of the contemporary glass movement both in Australia and internationally.