Monday April 22, 2024 | by Andrew Page

IN MEMORIAM: Gerry King (1945 - 2024)

The sudden passing of prolific artist and educator Gerry King, who died of a stroke on April 18, has sent shockwaves through the Australian and international glass communities who knew and cherished a true pioneer in contemporary glass. In addition to building an impressive art practice over the past four decades, as well as his work as a teacher and mentor, King was a past chair and president of the board of Ausglass, and an honorary lifetime member. With work in the collections of many prominent museums, he recently was celebrated in a retrospective 2022 exhibition entitled "Towards the Finishing Line" at the National Art Glass Gallery of the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery in New South Wales, which was followed by a solo exhibition at Sabbia Gallery in Sydney that same year.

Willunga, 2019. Kiln-cast glass. courtesy: the artist

King did his Australian qualifications in art and education from 1965, which he followed with study in ceramics and printmaking. He won a scholarship to study hot glass in the United States for his Master's degree, which he earned from Alfred University in the ferment of the early 1970s when the Studio Glass movement was picking up speed. He expanded his knowledge with further study of flat glass in Canada's Georgian College, after which King returned to Australia and established his own studio in Adelaide in 1976. He moved to Crafers in 1978, and eventually earned a doctorate in creative arts in 1993. Along the way, King was a tireless educator and held a number of educational positions, including coordinating glass studies from 1984 at the University of South Australia and becoming Head of the School of Design there from 1993. He moved on in 1996 to develop his own expanding glass art practice, using the medium to explore landscape and visual memory, among his many meditations on the natural world.

Community minded, King was a founding member of Ausglass, which he helped to establish in 1978. He brought together the national glass community for his "Hot Glass Gathering" which took place at his Sheoak Studio at Crafers in 1980. President of Ausglass from 1981 to 1983, King lectured frequently and traveled widely, especially to Turkey and China.  

Upon his sudden passing, Ursula Halpin eulogized her friend and mentor on Facebook, writing: From long days cutting and polishing glass, setting up kilns, listening to Radio National, making dry witty conversations on the fickle state of worldly affairs, from politics, religion, race relations and the climate - who knew we could have such colourful life confirming conversations on cold winters mornings while cutting glass." Halpin honored King's talents for inspiring others to pursue glass and to advance Australian glass in particular: "You made us, your friends and students feel like we were on our life’s path. You were interested in us, in life and art and everything around it. You shared the story of Australian Glass at almost every overseas trip you went on."

King is survived by his wife, Kate; son, Alistair; nine grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and two stepsons. His family is planning a big party in lieu of a formal funeral, in accordance with the late artist's oft-stated wishes.

UPDATE: There will be a "Celebration of Life" on May 10th at 7 PM local time at the Caledonian Hotel at 219 O'Connell Street in Adelaide. If attending, please RSVP by May 3rd to

Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.