Glass Artist Ruth Allen off to Float in Venice
A glass dress created by New Zealand multi-media artist Ruth Allen is one of among 30 designs to feature in the international Glass Art Society’s Fashion Show being held in the old glass capital of Murano in Venice.
Allen nearly drowned in her first glass dress. She went swimming in a lake and the weight of its 30 glass plates acted like an anchor.
“Luckily there was a dinghy nearby and I could haul myself out,” Allen recalls from her Melbourne studio.
Her new dress design, with its teetering high hat, requires a little more poise, but has better prospects as a flotation device. Rather than discs it’s made from blown glass baubles. As an added precaution, the holes that attach the glass to the bodice are stoppered. This may come in handy, should she fall off a gondola.
Allen calls her costume Goddess of Effervescence. A fizzy cocktail of inflated San Pellegrino bottles and newly blown baubles hang from a corset, bodice and asymmetrical hat. Further animating the tableau, a bubble machine will give the impression Allen has just shaken herself up.
Designed in collaboration with textile artist Victoria Rowell, Allen’s dress took two months to conceive. “My brief was it had to be predominantly glass, I have to be able to move in it. It has to be light, strong, has to travel well, I have to be in it for at least four hours,” she says.
Alongside the two glass dresses, Allen also produces glass jewellery. But bowls, vases and upcycled bottles transformed into lighting dominates her studio.
Allen began designing with glass in 1989 and has studied under Venetian master Lino Tagliapietra. Her biggest work to date is a 9mx3m glass installation, One World Island, based on Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion map, in the foyer of Canberra’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
Original article by Ray Edgar, The Sydney Morning Herald, May 11, 2018.
Photo by Eddy Khayat.