There have been several attempts over the years by local arts organisations to engage with embassies and high commissions based in Canberra. Directly linking visual artists with diplomatic missions and their collections is a new angle. Eight artists were paired with eight countries.
It appears that younger artists have embraced the concept more readily, and made new works that respond to the traditions of their selected country.
Having spent a year studying in the Czech Republic, Lienors Torre is showing numerous goblets, delicately engraved with motifs she discovered during this period. Enigmatic “Digital Light” is a cast Glass House with animation, and could be the castle where the “White Lady Apparition” of three engraved goblets with cast glass elements appears.
Designer and glass artist Elizabeth Kelly has long pursued the creation of objects which can be produced in multiples. She researched glass works made by two renowned Finnish artists in the 1930s and created “Ana Vases” in different colours and of differing heights.
Designed and made in the space of just five weeks, they are both appealing and practical.
Rather than focussing on hand-blown glass at the High Commission of Malta, Andrew Baldwin was taken with the country’s tradition of lacemaking – and the work of the wife of the High Commissioner, an experienced lacemaker. Three fine reticello glass vessels, made during his residency at Canberra Glassworks, are his response.
Other countries were Japan – paired with Helen Aitken-Kuhnen, Belgium – Erin Conron, Italy – Ben Edols and Kathy Elliott, Hanna Gason – France, and Klaus Moje – USA.
This is a great way to participate in some cultural diplomacy, with Australian artists as the key players.