Heated Exchanges at Manchester Craft & Design Centre, Manchester, 10 November 2016–5 February 2017, free entry - Visit now
One of the performers at award-winning live literature night Bad Language once told a story in which a character explains that the city found a surplus of glass underneath The Printworks, and had to use it all up before the EU took it away – that being the only way to explain how much of the stuff was being used for the new buildings in Manchester. ‘So that’s where Selfridges came from.’ He got a wry laugh at the time from locals familiar with the Crystal Maze architecture of Spinningfields, and serves to illustrate a point here: though transparent, and the thing that gets broken most often at a party, glass is not necessarily fragile. The three UK artists in Manchester Craft & Design Centre‘s exhibition Heated Exchanges have, however, set out to test the material’s limits.
Edinburgh-based artist Harry Morgan, for instance, makes minute glass threads using an ancient Venetian glassblowing technique, before casting them so that thousands of these threads come together, almost impossibly, to hold up concrete. Alexander Pearce stabs perfectly-finished glass shapes with hammered, coal-blackened metal while the glass is still hot, so that the inkwells or bowls that result capture a moment of fusion caught in time.
The award-winning Elinor Portnoy, on the other hand, explores the origins of glass, capturing it in a sand-like state against beautiful, ceramic vessels. All three of the artists in this small but startling exhibition are an effective reminder of just how extraordinary a material glass can be – just in case Spinningfields had made you forget.
Heated Exchanges launch: head down to Manchester Craft and Design Centre for the launch of Heated Exchanges on Saturday 19 November, 2pm-5pm. There will be complimentary mulled wine and mince pies, live music from Levy Uke Up and craft-led Christmas activities for kids.
Heated Exchanges at Manchester Craft & Design Centre, Manchester