Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens to Host International Glass + Clay Exhibition

Wall Art Criss ChaneyUS and UK artists meet for exhibition of Glass and Ceramics

I am delighted to be a part of this showcase in Sunderland of the International Glass and Clay Exhibition, which was held in Washington DC in March of this year, until 29 September.  The original exhibition included the work of 16 Sunderland creative businesses and artists alongside glass and ceramics pieces by artists from the DC area (curated in partnership with Washington Glass School, Flux Ceramics studio, and Artomatic in Washington DC under the city’s Friendship Agreement).

The Sunderland showcase is shared by 2 venues: small scale cabinet work is being shown at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens (Burdon Road, Sunderland, SR1 1PP) and larger scale and wall pieces are being show at Creative Cohesion Gallery at 21Nile St, Sunniside.

Alongside the work of Sunderland makers, this showcase event features pieces by seven of the DC based artists, including Tim Tate and Michael Janis who spent 2 weeks here at the University and National Glass Centre as Fulbright Visiting Specialists in March 2012 (working with students and staff as well as with Sunderland creative businesses through Creative Cohesion).

Using an art exhibition as a bridge between two countries, the Sister City program brought together Sunderland and Washington DC in a show that celebrates the medias of glass and clay and the relationship between the two cities. The exhibition was first shown at Washington DC’s Edison Place Gallery in March this year and has now traveled to Sunderland, England; this is the third collaboration with Sunderland’s Sister City DC. In 2008 Glass 3 was held in Georgetown and in 2009, 38 artists from Sunderland participated in the 10th Artomatic.

The exhibition is being shown over two venues in Sunderland, Creative Cohesion and Sunderland Museum from 22nd August- 29th September.

DC artists exhibiting: Sean Hennessey, Jeff Herrity, Michael Janis, Tamara Laird, Laurel Lukaszewski, Tim Tate, Novie Trump.

UK artists exhibiting: Stephen Beardsell, Criss Chaney, James Maskrey, Brian Thompson, Robyn Townsend, Margareth Troli, Roger Tye, Phil Vickery and Philippa Whiteside.

Glass and Clay poster


Archetypal Images in Art

The Peter Coreth Collection

By Kate Reynolds (Berkeley)

The name “Museum Humanum” suggests the approach Peter Coreth has taken in presenting his collection to the public. He has displayed objects from many ages and many cultures. He invites visitors to speculate on the meaning of these artefacts by seeing them in a context that reveals the commonality of human experience. In his written statement, describing the mission of this museum, he says he believes in the old maxim that the fight for survival (for the human race) must be fought by intellectual means rather than by violent acts.

Museum Humanum The Female Vessel

Peter uses the phrase, “variegated expressions of human orientation,” in describing his collection. The orientation of which he speaks is grounded simultaneously in the external world of temporal events and the subjective realm of experience. The link between these two dimensions is referred to by St. Paul when he claimed, “as above, so below” and was rephrased by Goethe when he said, “as within, so without.”

There is no clearer evidence of a disorientation from this centre than our current existential crisis. Our world lacks its own image because we have lost an understanding of the coordinates that join these polarities. We no longer agree upon what is true and what is real. These agreements are provisional truths but they underlie all high cultures. In this collection we can see the evidence of these provisional truths, which are mythological. This is the reason why the collection has so much to teach us.

At present, the customary approach to studying art and cultural objects are similar to those of science. Science draws comparisons between things in horizontal lines like those in the categories of Linnaeus: one tree parallel to another, mammals more similar to each other than to molluscs. For scholars, art is studied by period, style, and within a specific culture. Contrary to the modern paradigm, the mythological mind makes vertical correspondences that liken an animal to a constellation, a planet to a colour or musical note.

A schematic representation of this theory could be pictured as a helix. It is a representation of the manifest universe. Time and space are round, seasons spinning and planets turning. All phenomena are serial, limited, and cyclic; each plane of existence reflected in the level above and below. The bridges between one thing and another do not have obvious links but come out of a tradition sunk deep in human consciousness; one that informs our individual and collective dreams (myth) and is called the Theory of Correspondances by Hermetic philosophers.

Here entities on one plane of existence correspond to the plane above through common rhythms; which is to say through a common modality or essential expression. The snake, whose sinuous movements correspond to a helix, the most seminal symbol for the life force in time, corresponds to a dragon on the plane above. The dragon is a hybred between biological and spiritual forces. It changes to an eagle on the plane above. The logic behind these links belong to a tradition long abandoned in the West, but still visible in all natural cultures. In megalithic and astrobiological cultures the mythic imagination forged links between animals and planets, musical instruments and implements of work, parts of the body and landscapes, cardinal directions and seasons. The nature of myth and these symbols are as inexplicable as consciousness itself.

It was for this reason that the orientation of the organic world of life and death was counterposed to the realm of the heavens for ancient man. In all the works of his imagination he looked for the blue print of these archetypes, for the form of the Sacred. The making of Art was not an existential exercise, but an attempt to find that which is unvarying and unchanging.

That has certainly been the quest of modern science. I would like to suggest that it may be more prudent to look to art for unvarying truths as has been done by Peter Coreth in this collection. For it is the intermediate zone between the inner and outer worlds that one can find what is constant to both. The language of this common field is art and myth.

Original Text can be found at the Museum Humanum’s Website

Don’t forget, ‘The Year of the Woman’ solo show by Criss Chaney, opens August 24th at 3pm. At Museum Humanum, Fratres 11, A-3844 Waldkirchen/Thaya, Austria. For more information please email

Places of Contemplation

The work showing at the Museum Humanum this August as part of the 2013 Kulturbrücke is about the human experience, spirituality and the subconscious. Throughout time and across cultures humans have felt the need to create religions, spiritual practices, and art to express their subjective and intuitive experiences. For the Musuem Humanum I am exhibiting work that incorporates the archetypal female form with artifact and cave imagery.

Glimmer Glass Art

Artifacts have a life of their own that span many human lifetimes. They can often be the only windows we have into another person’s life and how they understood the world. Can we really identify with a prehistoric person? They may have the very same basic desires for food, shelter, and clothing, and perhaps even self-expression, but their worldview would be so different. Can we ever view their possessions with the same understanding they did? They who may have made it and viewed it as a vital part of their life and survival, and us who hold it up high and revere it as valuable art?

Moving from the objects that people leave behind, to their stories and myths, we find caves playing a mythical role in society. Caves are closely tied with female sexuality and its life giving powers, they were considered to be the ‘wombs’ of ‘Mother Earth’. Mayans believed caves to be sacred, a place where the gods could move between worlds. In my work I use caves as a metaphor for the subconscious, and spiritual dimensions of human existence. With the shift to a secular society, science has replaced mysticism and has renamed the realm of the gods ‘the subconscious’. Spirituality, psychoanalysis, and art are all human endeavors to explore this hidden aspect of our nature.

Using the archetypal female form and its close associations with caves this exhibition explores a common and deep-seated intuitive attraction to these forms and the mysteries they present.

“The Year of the Woman” opens on August 24th, 2013 at 3pm, at the Museum Humanum, Fratres, Austria. Please email for more information if you would like to attend.

Hope Winch Society Prize

Hope Winch Society Prize 2011This is the second year running that I have been commissioned to make the annual award for the Hope Winch Society. This award goes out to a third year student who has been voted the most proficient in their year. This years lucky winner was Xin Ning Tan a student from Malaysia.  The design of the award is based on a gelcap and is solid sculpted glass weighing 1.5kg.

The Hope Winch Society is for all University of Sunderland Pharmacy Graduates.  Named after Hope Constance Monica Winch, who was appointed as the first head of the University’s pharmacy department and was instrumental in its development. After Hope Winch’s death in 1944, the Hope Winch Memorial Committee was set up, and formed the Hope Winch Memorial Scholarship, a prize awarded to the most proficient 2nd year pharmacy student. The presentation of this is at an award ceremony which includes a lecture from an invited high-ranking individual. This is known as the Hope Winch Lecture. Now, the committee gives give the prize to the most proficient third year student, and there are also prizes for most proficient first and second year students.

If you have an award or prize that you would like made in glass, please contact me to discuss your needs.

University of Sunderland’s Alumni Award

I have recently completed a commission for the University of Sunderland’s Alumni Association. The Alumni Award celebrates and honours Sunderland graduates who have gone on to make a difference in the world either in their careers, community involvement, philanthropy, or by displaying meritorious heroism.

This year they wanted a custom design base on the University’s logo, but not just a direct copy of it. So taking inspiration from some of the design elements in the campus buildings I went for this.

Award Design for Sunderland Alumni Association

If you have any awards or commissions you would like made in glass go ahead and contact me to discuss the options.

The Big Picture, Community Artwork for Sunderland

The Big Picture, in the kilnFor the past couple months I have been collaborating with two other local artists from other disciplines to create, a piece of community artwork.

From 3rd October 2011 until the 16th October 2011 Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens will play host to one of Sunderland’s largest collaborative pieces of artwork. The Big Picture project was specifically developed to encourage
as many people as possible to create artwork in a similar theme to show the massive variety of responses individuals can have.

Three local artists from very different disciplines Criss Chaney an American glass artist based in Sunderland, Liz Shaw a ceramicist and entrepreneur, and Jo Howell fine artist owner of Maverickart, stopped around 150 people on a busy
Friday in the Bridges shopping centre in July to get them creating their very own small artworks. Supported by Starbucks, The Bridges, Creative Cohesion and Sunderland Council, the project took the theme of Summer and encouraged participants to create a 3” x 3” tile in any of the art mediums mentioned.

The response was phenomenal, with some people choosing to stick around to make a tile in all 3 mediums! For 2 wonderful weeks the tiles will be shown altogether creating The Big Picture which you can see between the Museum’s opening hours Monday to Saturday 10am until 5pm, and Sunday 2pm until 5pm.

Due to the resounding success and number of participants, plans are being put into place to develop the project for 2012 in a Sports theme to coincide with the Olympic Games. So if you missed out making a tile this time, don’t worry there is always next year!

Jo Howell the Big Picture Sunderland

New Stained Glass Classes Starting

I will be starting a new stained glass class at Creative Cohesion in Sunderland. Learn the ancient art of stained glass, make your own panels, windows, sun-catchers, lampshades, and much more. We will also explore some more experimental techniques, by incorporating found objects and custom made glass. Beginners and those with experience are welcome.

Contact me to register your interest and let me know what days and time would suit you best.