THE $15,000 Ranamok Glass Prize for 2014 has gone to New Zealand artist, Kathryn Wightman for her unusual work "Carpet," it was announced before a large crowd at the Canberra Glassworks this evening.

Kathryn Wightman, Carpet
Kathryn Wightman, Carpet

A series of large glass tiles executed by a mixture of screen printing, sintering and pate de verre techniques, "Carpet” impressed the judges because of its scale and technical innovation.

“Its historical reference to aged oriental carpets was seen as [an] intriguing and beautiful reworking of historical imagery very well known to everyone," the judges said.

Lee Howes, Phillumeny
Lee Howes, Phillumeny

Wightman's work suggested, as did many of the other entries, a tendency for contemporary glass artists to "push the boundaries of what glass might be capable of." Works that appear at first glimpse to be fabric, a matchbox or a traditional Maori garment turn out to be glass.

Andy Plummer and Maureen Cahill, cofounders of the quirkily-named named Ranamok Prize, (it implies glass artists running amok) were on hand for the announcement at The Glassworks, where the exhibition of short-listed entries is now on show.

Robert Wynne, The Magpies Hoard, 2014
Robert Wynne, The Magpies Hoard, 2014

A surprise announcement for many was that this would be the final Ranamok Glass Prize in its 20 year history. The Prize was founded in 1994 as a way to promote glass as an art form to the public.

Kirstie Rea, Identity - the swim
Kirstie Rea, Identity - the swim

Plummer described it as a natural part of the cycle, saying he and Cahill had achieved their aim of showcasing the best quality glass from both Australia and New Zealand. Over the 20 year (“a good figure,” he said) he had developed a taste for making glass and would now be able to spend more time with his own practice. In his early 60s, he says, it had been time to decide how long he and Cahill should continue to manage the prize. “To 70? To 80?” Rather, in his view, it was better to quite while the prize was at its height and receiving record entries of high quality.

Cahill said her calendar was very full and that she would focus not only on her own practice but on her Glass Artists' Gallery in Glebe, where she planned to run rotating glass exhibitions.

Softening the new, Simon Elliott, Assistant Director, Curatorial & Educational Services from the National Gallery of Australia, announced that the Ranamok acquisitive collection of 20 pieces form the past 20 years has been donated by Ranamok to the NGA. All agreed it would be well cared-for there.

The 20th Ranamok Glass Prize Exhibition will be on show at The Canberra Glassworks Wed-Sun 10am to 4pm until September 18. Gallery Floor Talk: Saturday, 16 August at 2pm. All welcome.

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Ian Meikle, editor