Hot, light and gorgeous

Canberra is no stranger to world class exhibitions.  As home to the nation’s premier cultural institutions we could be forgiven for taking for granted our access to the finest art.

A recent trip to the Canberra Glassworks in Kingston reminded me how lucky we are. The Glassworks is the only cultural centre in Australia that is wholly dedicated to contemporary glass art - offering Canberrans a chance to experience the incredible qualities of the medium while providing a venue for artistic creation. At present, the gallery is featuring Nick Mount - one of the world’s leading figures in the studio glass movement and recipient of the 2012 Living Treasure: Masters of Australian Craft Award.

This latest exhibition - the fabric of work - showcases a series of unique and incredibly beautiful installations of blown, carved and polished glass, assembled with wood and metal components. As Beverly Growden, the General Manager of the Canberra Glassworks, explained to me - ‘these works combine a respect for traditional glassmaking techniques with a wry Australian wit’.

The recently announced arts precinct within the Kingston Foreshore will spiral from the cultural niche that the Canberra Glassworks has carved out in our city - becoming a true heart for Canberra’s artists and craftspeople.

The arts hub will be a focal point for the broader foreshore development and a tourist destination. The new precinct will incorporate the Fitters’ Workshop and Old Bus Depot Markets - breathing new life into these valuable heritage assets. The powerhouse - the home of the Glassworks - was one of the first buildings in Canberra and for too many years was left vacant. Its reinvention as the ‘hot’ glassworks was one of those decisions that has proven to be a stroke of brilliance.

Anyone who has sat in the gallery watching the artist take the molten glass from the furnaces and shape it into objects that catch the light and imagination will hold the memory with wonder.

Canberra is well and truly ready to be recognised as a city of art and design - this precinct promises to be the key that opens the door to that future.

Catherine Carter is ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia