by Andrew Page
As the new artistic director of North Lands Creative Glass in northeast Scotland, artist and designer Emma Woffenden has reengaged her complex relationship with glass, a material in which she is highly trained but which she uses judiciously in visceral multimedia works that plumb the subconscious. In a wide-ranging interview, Woffenden talks about the evolution of her relationship to glass, which began almost accidentally during her undergraduate studies and which deepened after she worked for glass artists Colin Reid and Clifford Rainey, and then went on to earn a master’s in ceramics and glass at the Royal College of Art in London.
Her extensive knowledge of the material has made her exacting about when and how to use it, and she is fond of employing contrast to heighten its effect. She freely pairs glass elements with found objects, rope, jesmonite, polystyrene, metal, resin, plastic pipe, and even bandages for objects and installations that plumb such topics as power dynamics, religious iconography, and the erotic. Among her influences has been 17th-century religious sculpture, which strove to make symbolic imagery immediate and real to worshippers by pairing lively materials such as glass with wood and plaster’s matte surfaces.