MEET: Adele Christensen
She has a degree in Glass and Ceramic Design from Stourbridge (at the time, the centre of the UK Glass Industry) and a M.A in Ceramics and Design from Bath Spa, but that’s not really what grabs your attention. It’s her artwork that does that.
Inspired by playfulness and a fascination with nature, Adele creates stunning pieces of glass art from her studio in Keynsham. All helped, of course, by the presence of her faithful dog, Angus Baby.
What does your art explore?
When you’re a child you don’t feel this separation amongst Science and Art, it's just exploration and play. The two subjects crossover, maybe as you’re playing with petals and sand or something like that. However, as you get older these become very divided. I want to go back to my childhood experiences and the playful fascinations with the natural world. I’m basically still exploring what I’ve always explored.
How would you describe your art?
Well, paintily. Is that a word? It’s decorative in an Applied Art sense but it’s Fine Art in the way I incorporate texture and sculpture. The overall result is something that’s quite rustic and chunky for outdoor presentation.
What motivates your work?
Exploration of the natural world and being fascinated by what nature offers visually. So the sky, the sea, the land, the light…
What have you been up to recently?
My most recent exhibition was at Urchfont Manor. I created larger than life decomposing glass petals for a site specific installation in the reflection pool. Now I really want to revisit my corrugated project and research a shelter aspect to this. In this way I guess it’s like my ‘Traces’ project I did which was interested in the re-appropriation of everyday materials, like plastic packaging.
Do you have any artists that influence you?
I’m often more inspired by textile artists or artists using mixed media such as Anselm Kiefer. He just goes for it big time. I love the obsessiveness of his work. His work is strong, he’s just going for it and he’s not wondering what people think. On a side note, I also distinctly remember my Mum returning from Italy when I was younger. She had lots of gifts but the thing I most treasured was a twisted bit of glass off the Venice workshop floor. I still have it now.
Why did you choose to work with glass?
I was influenced by my art teacher’s wife who was a graduate of Glass and Design. With the art teacher, I don’t think i’ve ever had such good drawing tuition from someone. His wife, Heather, would stand in sometimes and she’d talk about her glass. She really captured my imagination. This was in sixth form and i’m still friends with her now. She still mentors me. If i’m doing a project, one of the first things I do is ring her up and ask her what she thinks.
What interests you?
Nowadays it's the dog. The dog is taking over where the children left off. It’s not about whether the son comes in late at night, it’s just whether the dog has been fed or not. *Laughs*. He’s become my baby now.
What does it mean to be creative?
It's always a playfulness for creative people. They’re always at play. For example, I was doing a sundial commission and I found myself cooking dinner and playing with carrots, positioning them into a sundial.
You lived in Denmark for a bit, can you tell us about that?
Kim (Adele’s husband) and I got together and travelled, then we had our first of three children and moved back to Kim’s home of Denmark for 8 years. I got homesick. I wasn’t making art and I think that was what was missing for me. Also, I had young children and obviously I had to be involved in Mother Groups etc etc. This friend who was a Graphic Designer visited and he said to me, ‘what makes you think that you have anything in common with other people just because they have children the same age?’ He said ‘why aren’t you finding friends with the same interests as you?’. It dawned on me I needed to find some creatives in Denmark. I did and a different world opened up to me there.
Who did you meet?
I met Pia who had a glass studio near Silkeborg. She invited me to create a project with her. It was before Christmas and she offered to fire something for me. So I went away and designed this huge panel. She was quite shocked, she was expecting christmas decorations. She was impressed though so we fired it and continued to collaborate on other projects. She re-ignited my interest in glass and made me promise to continue when I returned back to the U.K.
Is there something you know you do differently than most people? What makes you different?
My daughter Olivia says I have no filter. I call it honesty. Does that make me unique? *laughing* But on a serious note, I did discover, when I had a decorating business, that I have an ability to mix specific colour instinctively.
What challenges do you find when trying to market yourself and your art?
I find it challenging to get the respect for what I would call Applied Arts in comparison to what other people would call Fine Art. I wouldn’t distinguish between the two but I think the galleries and those in the market do separate them. I don’t understand why a painting might command a higher price than a fine piece of glass and ceramics.
Do you find it hard to get your art out there?
I feel like a lot of the galleries play it safe and they dont scout for new talent, they only respond to something that somebody else has responded it to. The avenue i’d like to go down now though is one where I’m connected to architecture and the commission is already in place. For example if there’s a building being built they already know that they want something interesting for the foyer so they’ve already set aside a budget to commission that. I’d really like projects that would enable me to use a team who facilitate my big ideas.
And finally, if you’re feeling down what's your best way up?
Hot bath, glossy mag, or a good book, and a chocolate treat. But, if it’s a creative block, a good walk with the dog usually sorts things out.
To look at more of Adele’s amazing glass art, you can go to her website HERE.