Sightlines in Glass and Time
THE ART OF BRENDEN SCOTT FRENCH
Brenden Scott French’s playful constructs in kiln-formed glass reveal deep stories in time-lapse. Profile by Ivana Jirasek. Photography by Grant Hancock.
IN the dynamic and intense world of contemporary studio glass, Brenden Scott French beats his own drum. His breadth of skill with glass and creative independence have set him apart: he thrives on exploration and is recognised
as one of Australia’s most innovative artists. What is easily overlooked is his thoughtful analysis of contemporary life and its myriad enigmas. It is also evident, that while his observations and artistic work have an Australian anchor, many of his propositions are universal: ‘I’m fascinated by paradox and I’m at times overwhelmed by beauty. I spend hours contemplating the relationship between things in order to clarify the absurdities of transitional permanence. I examine hazards to connectivity.’1 French has a very clear artistic sensibility and perfectly articulates his own core process and aesthetic: ‘In the real and in the imaginary, my work has patiently evolved. As my understanding of the material develops so too does my relationship with the world.’2 This apparently simple premise has sustained his creative flow for decades, enabling a playful exploration with glass as well as with the concepts that rise, fall and evolve in his artistic psyche. A consuming commitment to working with glass – by all accounts a wonder material, rich in technical and optical scope – has given French a creative language that he has explored widely and has great fluency with. When connected with his conceptual reservoir, the combination of possibilities is unlimited. The continuous relationship and co-evolution of both domains keeps French’s practice fresh and dynamic. His induction in glass has been comprehensive. College training in leadlight construction led to work in the teacher’s studio. In turn, this led to formal arts training at Sydney College of the Arts where he completed a bachelor degree, studying hot glass under the direction of Scott Chaseling and applied design under glass designer Elizabeth Kelly. The course emphasised conceptual development and introduced French to a range of other media (metal, ceramics and wood) and artists committed to a sole material. The pull of glass remained strong and he continued a rigorous mentorship with Kelly at the JamFactory Craft and Design Centre in Adelaide, where she became Head of the Glass Studio, and he was a Design Associate. She recalls that he was a fast learner, brought a commitment to the material process and had fun. There he acquired valuable studio experience in glass production for market and supported Kelly with her private commissions. In Adelaide, he also made a strong connection with master glass blower Nick Mount, who encouraged his professional growth. Significant workshops exposed French to diverse cultures, techniques and concepts with artists Yoshihiko Takahashi, Ruth King/Katherine Gray, Hiroshi Yamano, Dante Marioni, Dino Rosin and Karen Willenbrink.
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