Opaque Counterpoint  

Most glass is the clear, colourless and transparent material that has become a commonplace feature of our daily environment. However, glass can be made as an entirely opaque material, like ceramic, through which light cannot penetrate.

The earliest type of glass was a primitive material akin to an opaque glaze on a ceramic body. Early attempts at glassmaking were motivated by the desire for an economical and practical substitute for brightly coloured and highly prized natural hardstones such as lapis lazuli and turquoise.

Over the centuries, opaque glass was made to simulate various materials including porcelain and striated stones such as chalcedony and agate. Eventually, such was the glassmaker's skill in simulating other prized materials in his own medium, that a fifteenth-century Venetian observer wrote that 'there is no kind of precious stone which cannot be imitated by the industry of glass-workers, a sweet contest of nature and of man.'

This other quality of glass - its ability to be richly coloured and opaque - has appealed to artists and connoisseurs through the centuries. Similarly, the eighteenth-century English philosopher Edmund Burke (1729-1797) referred to our fascination with the condition of transparency in general, recording in particular the visual pleasure we derive from 'diamonds, clear water, glass and such like transparent substances.'

In this selection of works we see artists exploring the visual dynamics of compositions that pit against one another the two opposing properties of glass - its transparency on the one hand and its lustrous opacity on the other.






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Line Drawings,  BELFRAGE, Clare; 1998
Home journey #2,  BORELLA, Claudia; 2001
The Ascension,  CHASELING, Scott; 2000
Stria (Olive/Cobalt),  CURTIS, Matthew; 2001
Murrini Vase,  ELLIOT, Kathy; EDOLS, Ben; 1994
Self-portrait,  HALEM, Henry; 1973, Crafts Board of the Australia Council Collection 1980
Newcastle cameo vase,  HANNING, Tony; 2000
Close Distance 42,  LOUGHLIN, Jessica; 2000
Teapot,  MARQUIS, Richard; 1974
Vase,  POWOLNY, Michael; LÖTZ WITWE, Johann; 1915-18
Crystal Clarity | Coloured Clarity | Inner Worlds | Translucency | Opaque Counterpoint |
Stria (Olive/Cobalt),  CURTIS, Matthew; 2001