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Caithness News Bulletins August 2005

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The Design Element - Northlands Creative Glass International Conference

For the ninth successive year it's the season when artists and professionals from all over the world converge on The Alastair Pilkington Studio in Lybster for a series of masterclasses and a weekend conference that is now a must in the contemporary glass calendar. This year the theme is 'The Design Element', a topic which features strongly in 21st century life everywhere from sports equipment to home decoration and of course glass.

Peter Aldridge leading the masterclass

With its growing reputation as a centre of excellence North Lands Creative Glass has been able to attract some of the best known names around. Two well attended master classes are already underway. Peter Aldridge, design director of the luxury American Glass Company 'Steuben' leads one of them 'Thought, Process, Material, Innovation'. Although British, Aldridge has spent most of his working life in the United States and seized on this opportunity to come home and discover the magic of the Caithness landscape. Teaching a masterclass has not allowed him a great deal of time for sightseeing, but he has seen enough to know that he will be back. North Lands and Lybster have a way of becoming habit forming and some who came here as students have decided to make it their home. They love the landscape, the light and the way of life that encourages both creation and reflection. Others come back to take masterclasses year after year and have become Caithness 'regulars'.

Simon Moore, who leads the second class, 'Creative Production, Creative Marketing' is another British artist who has returned home from abroad and a spell as creative director of the famous Italian glass company 'Salviati'. More recently he spent time in Devon working as design director for Dartington Glass. Currently he is teaching at the Royal College of Art and has gone back to his first love, ceramics. Moore has just finished designing a beautiful range of Pasta dishes and cups for the exclusive fashion house of Nicole Farhi, to be sold in their four smart outlets, two in London and two in New York.

As usual the weekend conference (September 3rd and 4th) falls between two sets of masterclasses. Those wishing to attend should get in touch. It features a group of distinguished speakers including visiting Masters and other guest speakers such as Jennifer Hawkins Opie, who retired this year from her job as curator of glass at the Victoria & Albert Museum and David Grant, well known at home and abroad for his distinctive 'Highland Stoneware' products made in Lochinver.

Master glass blower Simon Moore
 and his class participants

After the conference one class 'A Cohnceptual Play' will be led by Susan Cohn, a remarkable jewellery designer of international repute. Her work includes some ground breaking designs for Alessi. The last class 'Why Glass?' will be led by one of Britain's most sought after young designers, a recent graduate from art school who has already made a considerable name for himself. In 2003 Paul Cocksedge won the coveted Bombay Sapphire annual glass award and since then there has been no looking back. He is in demand everywhere and we are lucky to have him at North Lands Creative Glass. Co-leading with Cocksedge is Angela Jarman, a exciting studio glass artist with work in important collections such as the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The 2005 programme of masterclasses and conference have been supported by the Scottish Arts Council, Caithness & Sutherland Enterprise, The Highland Council, The Robertson Trust, The Jerwood Foundation, Corning Museum of Glass and the Bullseye Glass Company, USA.

2005 has been a great year at North Lands with outreach work involving many primary schools and High Schools in Caithness and Sutherland, and residencies for groups of artists who have travelled from as far afield as New Zealand and the United States to be here. During the course of the year we have also enjoyed collaboration with other local arts enterprises including Timespan in Helmsdale and the Lyth Arts Centre. And we are already planning a full programme of events for our tenth anniversary in 2006.

North Lands Creative Glass is situated in Lybster, a small fishing village on the North East Coast of Scotland. North Lands is open both to glass artists and to painters, sculptors, architects and designers wishing to explore the technical and artistic potential of glass either on its own or in combination with other materials. Through its programme of summer masterclasses, its annual conference and its residencies, North Lands aims to stimulate a lively exchange of ideas whilst also allowing time for reflection and action in a professional environment. North Lands was born in the nineties out of a need to create a centre of excellence to stimulate the growing interest in the possibilities of glass as an art form.

North Lands Creative Glass is the only craft based organisation to receive core funding from the Scottish Arts Council.

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