The Glass Master

Brian Hirst

Glass artist Brian Hirst works in both 3 and 2 dimensions, forging contrasting materials – glass and metal – and manipulating perspective. He is a master of his craft and each of his works – some reminiscent of ritual vessels – is unique. His work is displayed in collections around the world, including the Corning Museum of Glass in New York, and the Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, Japan. We caught up with Brian recently to learn more about his experience, endeavours and passions.

How did you begin working in glass and metal?
Since 1978 when at art school in Victoria. But at the time the glass and metal were different mediums and my drawing bought the two together in the 1980s. I would learn to use the glass as the study and draw the glass on plates to print and interpret the study/model in other 3D ways.

What inspires you?
Art in general and forms mainly … large or small……and very interesting heads.

How has your aesthetic evolved?
Through being able to blow glass and make objects I have kept heart and soul together while either teaching or making a living as a small business. But the people I work with have really kept me going.

What has been your greatest challenge to date?
Surviving after the GFC has been really interesting given most of the boundaries have changed recently. My main gallery in NY closed earlier this year after 48 years in the business so I am probably about to face my hardest challenges.

Which is the work that you are most proud of?
I have just finished the Sydney Peace Prize for Julian Burnside AO QC which is the tenth year I have been making the award which I am very proud of that. But the latest Cherry Votive Bowl for a private client has been the biggest and best stand-alone vessel I have ever made. It was the thing I envisaged and wanted to make many years before I had the skills to do so. The client appreciated it as much as I did so I was happy.

Photography care of Brian Hirst and Nicholas Watt