Review / Annette brings her craft home

Craft / “Somewhere familiar – Annette Blair”. At Beaver Galleries, Deakin until September 2. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE.

Nurture – blown and cold worked glass, glass enamels, 23 x 23 x 23cm

ANNETTE Blair has transformed domestic objects such as bowls and balls of knitting yarn into sculptural objects. Or maybe they are just objects that we are familiar with, but created in a different medium.

Blair is an experienced glass blower, creating her own work and acting as gaffer for other artists.

“Close knit” – blown and coldworked glass, glass enamels, 31.5 x 38 x 38cm

The large, single bowls in this show are strong forms with dark, matt interiors so that the visual interest is all in the external surface. Catalogue No. 8, “The View Outside”, captures the deep, bright blue Canberra winter skies with layered clouds, and is a work with presence. A smaller version makes up one of the three nestling vessels in Catalogue No. 3, “Nurture”.

“Coming home” – blown and cold worked glass, glass enamels, 29.5 x 37 x 37cm

Catalogue No. 1, “Coming Home” shows the green and yellows of paddocks in autumn – although not in the current drought conditions. Long grass waves on the surface of this deep bowl and is also a strong work, which is reminiscent of the end of a good summer. Another large, deep bowl is Catalogue No. 2 “Close Knit”, in deep red with bright spots of colour. The coldworked surface, creating the appearance of wrapped yarn, gives visual tension highlighted by the coloured spots.

I find the nestling bowls less successful as groups. They appear to be selected randomly, which might be how they are grouped in our cupboards, but I would have preferred some link between them. Nevertheless, they are appealing groupings and evoke the domesticity of kitchens and all they bring in nurturing memories.

More warm, comforting memories are evoked in the glass balls of knitting yarn, two with knitting needles stuck through them. Cold working on the surfaces even gives the appearance of wrapped yarn.

“Collection of warmth #23” – blown and coldworked glass, glass enamels, 12 x 36.5 x 14.5cm

Blair is also showing two tableaux – Catalogue Nos. 4 and 5, Vestige # 6 and Vestige # 7 (a study of domestic relics) respectively. Old paint cans with vessels and objects used for minor domestic repairs and maintenance have been recreated in glass to form still-life arrangements.

Blair uses glass enamels in combination with blown glass to create the works in this, as well as cold-working techniques. The large, deep bowls are particularly impressive.

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