Art / Craft Scotland / Collect 2023
"I really loved the versatility of the glass, as it has so many aspects to it from glassblowing, to casting, to fusing and cold working to name just a few."
Charlott Rodgers is a Glasgow practice-based studio glass artist, investigating the creative applications of glass and ceramics, exploring and combining conflicting and incompatible materials with the somewhat volatile nature of foam glass.
Hi Charlott, thank you for talking with The New Current. How has everything been going?
Hello, lovely to talk to you! Things have been going well, although the last few weeks have been a bit hectic with getting all my work finished for Collect 2023.
What did it mean to you to be exhibited at the British Class Biennale in 2022?
Being exhibited at the British Glass Biennale in 2022 was a big milestone for me, as I only graduated from my MFA in Glass from Edinburgh College of Art in June 2022. It was a wonderful experience to see my work among works by artists that I have followed for a long time and that I admire.
Congratulations on being part of Craft Scotland at Collect 2023! Are you excited to be part of such an impressive lineup of Scottish-based Makers?
Thank you! Excited doesn’t even come close to it. To be exhibited by Craft Scotland at Collect has been an ambition of mine since I started on the MFA. I didn’t think it would happen so fast, but I am delighted and ludicrously happy to be one of the ten makers selected.
Will there be any nerves ahead of Collect 2023, or do you think you are going to be able to relax and enjoy the whole experience?
I think it will be a little of both. I am full of anticipation to see my work at Somerset House, it’s such a wonderful venue, and I am a little nervous as it is such a big deal for me. I am giving a booth talk on Thursday 2nd of March at the Craft Scotland stand so that adds a little to the nerves.
Once I am there though I am going to enjoy myself and am looking forward to seeing all the amazing new work exhibited and catch up with friends.
How essential are creative opportunities like Craft Scotland and Collect 2023?
They are essential to be honest. Craft Scotland is championing makers and craft in Scotland and without them I don’t think I would have the chance to present my work at such a high end venue and to such a big audience like Collect 2023.
As makers we need organisations like Craft Scotland and opportunities such as Collect 2023 to be able to showcase our work and be supported.
What more do you think can be done to champion and support future independent Makers?
It boils down to funding and publicity I think. Funding in the broadest of senses as with college and university courses being cut, there is a real danger for craft to go into decline. This stands in stark contrast to the figures that show how much the arts bring in revenue to the UK.
I feel that as craft/art is often non tangible and take time to develop it can be undervalued. We need to invest in children and their art education and we need to make more opportunities for independent makers.
Where did your passion for glasswork and ceramics originate?
I have always loved to make with my hands. I remember going to an art club when I was quite little and making clay dragons and dinosaurs. In 2009 I enrolled in a HNC Applied Arts course at the City of Glasgow College which included classes in glass and ceramics amongst other things.
I really loved the versatility of the glass, as it has so many aspects to it from glassblowing, to casting, to fusing and cold working to name just a few. I went on to do A HND in Glass at the City of Glasgow College which led me to my MFA in Glass at Edinburgh College of Art and now a PhD in Glass and Ceramics at Edinburgh College of Art.
Glass is a bit unpredictable at times and has personality, I think this keeps me hooked.
How much has your background in Applied Arts helped in how you approach your work?
Hugely. I like to call myself an Applied Artist who specialises in Glass. The Applied Arts approach informs everything I do. It is an openness to experiment and to combine materials and a way to look at problems that present themselves in making from all angles. “It’s impossible” doesn’t exist, it’s just that I haven’t quite worked out how to do it. I think this mindset comes from having different skillsets that compliment each other and the willingness to break out of traditional making constraints.
What was your time like at the Edinburgh College of Art, how much did your time here influence the type of work you wanted to create?
I have loved my time at ECA, despite being affected by Covid and loosing making and studio time during both lockdowns. The MFA was a water shed moment for me as a maker. It really pushed me to confront myself and my making, it was an amazing experience but quite intense and full on.
The work that I am creating now has directly come out of my time at ECA. I don’t think I would have ever otherwise had the time or the facilities to go as experimental and be so well supported in my journey as I have been. Big thanks go to my tutors Dr Jessamy Kelly and Dr Choi Kee Ryong along with all the technical staff at the college.
Would you be able to take me through the pieces you are going to showcase at Craft Scotland and Collect 2023?
I am showing seven pieces at Collect 2023. All are made from Foam Glass, which is glass powder that was aerated in a kiln during the casting process. This process makes the glass rise by trapping air bubbles inside of it. If you think of an Aero chocolate bar you get a visual of what the glass looks like inside.
All pieces are in shades of cobalt blue and white.
Two pieces are from my degree show and are solely made from blue Foam Glass. They consist of a large Foam Glass ellipse (40x26x32cm) and a small ellipse measuring 22x15x21 cm.
The new work, which was made especially for Collect 2023 consists of five pieces of which three have white slip cast ceramic bases into which the glass was directly foamed during the casting process. They consist of a large ellipse in white Foam Glass with a blue core (40x26x33cm) and two smaller round pieces with a colour fade from light to dark blue (14x 27cm).
The last two pieces are a pair of colour fade pieces with expansive lava like looking tops they measure 9x42cm.
How best do these piece represent you and the work you are creating?
These pieces present me quite well I think. They are experimental and dissident in a material and aesthetic way. They are a combination of glass and ceramics, a balance that isn’t always easily achieved, due to the compatibility of both materials.
They are dynamic, with some hidden conflicts and a dare I say it a little flamboyant.
So, if I was a piece of art, I think I might as well be one of my Foam Glass and ceramic pieces.
Do you have any reservations about using your personal experiences to inspire your work?
No, I think being an artist means confronting ones owns demons. Inspiration can come from anywhere. I happen to have tapped into my inner struggles to create some of my work which I am happy to share.
How much has your style and approach to your glasswork and ceramics changed since you started out?
It has changed quite a bit. When I started out I predominantly made fused work which was on a smaller scale. Since doing the MFA in Glass things have been more experimental and much larger in scale. This has partially to do with the fact that I have access to much larger kilns, a glassblowing studio, a cold working studio and a plaster room which I have never had in the past. Conceptually my work has also changed.
What top 3 tips would you offer an emerging glassworker or ceramicist?
Practice, practice, practice. Don’t be disheartened by setbacks and if things break (as they do especially in glass) but see it as learning opportunities and knowledge gain. Network your socks off and see as much contemporary art and craft as you can.
And finally, what would you like to take away from being part of Craft Scotland at Collect 2023?
Having been selected and showing at Collect 2023 has already been a big milestone for me. It has been a brilliant experience to see what goes into running a successful show and how Craft Scotland have meticulously planned every step. It is a great opportunity to see my work within the context of such a high end craft event and to situate myself within the field.
I am proud of the new work that I have created for the show and if things sell or I can create interest from a gallery for my work than that would be the icing on the proverbial cake.