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Norway born 1968

  • to Scotland 1972 to Western Australia 1980

Sea Urchin I 2007 Place made: Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Materials & Technique: glass, vases, glass: hand-blown, diamond wheel-cut, sandblasted, hand-carved, brush and felt polish

Dimensions: 30.0 h 37.0 diameter cm
Acknowledgement: Gift of Sandy Benjamin
Accession No: NGA 2008.203

Over the past 20 years, the diverse practices of contemporary Australian studio glass have seen its innovators acknowledge the rich visual and technical history of the material while developing it with the aid of new design and production technologies. The Western Australian artist Kevin Gordon is among the leading group of Australians taking glass beyond the expected.

Kevin Gordon was born to British parents in Norway in 1968, moved to Scotland in 1972 then to Perth in Western Australia in 1980. He trained with his father, the glass engraver Alastair Gordon, from 1989 to 1992, before establishing his own studio in 1992. In 1995, he operated the Gordon Studio Glassblowers with his sister, Eileen Gordon, in Melbourne before returning to Perth to re-establish his studio with glassblower David Hay in 1999. Gordon has a strong reputation for his work in engraved, multi-layer cameo glass, an ancient glass decorating technique used by few designers and artists in Australia due to its technical complexity and long production times. Gordon’s earlier work reflects a strong influence of French cameo glass of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, much of which was the period’s most vivid expression of the natural world.

With its complex engraving, carving, sandblasting, wheel-cutting and polishing of clear blown glass, Sea Urchin I moves on from Gordon’s coloured and opaque works. It was developed following a period of intensive research undertaken by Gordon in the Western Australian Museum’s Department of Aquatic Zoology. His interest in the museum’s collections of dry marine specimens stimulated his research into computer-aided design templates as a way to interpret, in glass, the intricate organic complexity of these marine forms. The resulting work was revealed in his exhibition Systema naturae at the Form Gallery in Perth in early 2008. His precision cutting and polishing of sections of this work into lens–like discs allow its engraved textures and patterns to be refracted and reflected through them. This ethereal object invites the curious and concentrated gaze and rewards the viewer with an invocation of the drama and mystery of the natural world.

Robert Bell
Senior Curator, Decorative Arts and Design

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra