|BLUE BLOCK (R1016) (2001), BY COLIN REID|
ACQUIRED FROM MAURINE LITTLETON GALLERY, WASHINGTON, DC, SEPTEMBER 2001
CAST AND POLISHED PILKINGTON OPTICAL GLASS AND COPPER, SIGNATURE, YEAR, AND SERIAL NUMBER (R1016) ENGRAVED ON THE WORK BY THE ARTIST
I first became familiar with Colin's work during a visit to Maurine's gallery in the spring of 2000, shortly before she hosted a show of his work. One of Colin's works really caught my attention... an angular glass work called R890. I particularly liked the contrast between the polished flat surfaces and the rough, natural surface, and the combination of the clear optical glass and the copper embedded in the glass. Although I really liked R890, circumstances weren't ideal for me to acquire it, so I held off... but I resolved that I would definitely add one of Colin's works to my collection someday.
So, in the summer of 2001, I happened to call Maurine Littleton, and she mentioned that she had more of Colin's work coming in time for the SOFA Expo show in Chicago. She also had scheduled a trip to Charlotte to deliver a work of art to another client, so when she came down to Charlotte, she brought three of Colin's works with her for me to see in person. Of the three, this one was ideal, so I acquired it from her.
Basically, this work is roughly in the shape of a cube. While three of the sides of the cube have been polished to crystal smoothness, the other three sides are very rough and appear in a bluish-green color. To create the mold for this work, Colin used a piece of Cotswold stone that had previously been used in a building... the stone had been carved with architectural details, which appear in the finished work. Before casting optical glass into the mold, Colin lined the inside of the mold with brownish copper powder. When the molten glass contacted the copper, it infiltrated into the glass, becoming a permanent part of the work, and oxidized into the blue-green color you see here. Most of the bubbles you see in this work are the result of a chemical reaction between the copper and the incredibly hot glass before it cooled. Because of its mass, this work took five weeks to anneal.
This work also contains a feature I've not seen before in Colin's works... a veil of bubbles, running through the center of the work. To create this veil, Colin actually casted two blocks of glass. When the glass slumped into the mold, the slight air gap between the two blocks became trapped, and the air coalesced into a veil of bubbles (the natural shape that air in liquid assumes).
This work appeals to me on several levels: I'm a big fan of optical glass, I love blue glass, and I really like bubbles in glass. Looking at this work through its polished surfaces is like looking at the bottom of the ocean, if you were able to light it. Or, as my brother Ward said to me, "It looks like a block of frozen seawater." This work contains seemingly infinite detail, yet its form is largely the result of allowing nature to determine how things will come out with just a little guidance.
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