Saturday, 26 September 2015

Pauline Delaney – Tiara bowls and vases

Pauline Delaney (b. 1959, UK) is a leading figure in Australian Glass. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in ceramics with a major in glass at the Caulfield Institute of Technology (now Monash University, Caulfield) 1978-81, she was a trainee at the Jam Factory in Adelaide 1982-85. Since then she has been based in Melbourne, working first from Michael Hook’s new Resolution Glass studio in Kensington. Later she was supervisor of the hot glass access workshop in the Meat Market Craft Centre in North Melbourne for a decade from 1988 to 1997. Her recent practice is in lampworking rather than blowing hot furnace glass, where she makes glass beads of advanced design and runs classes in the popular craft of bead making.

An early distinction in Pauline Delaney’s career was the acquisition of one of her works by the Corning Museum of Glass in the USA.  The item was made in Adelaide, towards the end of her time at the Jam Factory, and glorifies in the name of ‘Neurot Tiara’:

Pauline Delaney 1985 “Neurot Tiara”, 18.5cm high

Note the simplicity of the piece. A classically shaped bowl, blown to shape in a single transparent colour, is crowned at the rim by a ruffled ‘tiara’ in clear crimped glass. This celebrated object is the forerunner of a series of tiara vessels in many sizes and colours, which became signature pieces in the next phase of Pauline Delaney’s glassblowing career.

Here is a selection of Delaney’s tiara vessels in various sizes and colours. Note how the basic shape is maintained as the vessel is scaled up and down, with the taller ones more like a vase than a bowl. Note also how the various forms of the clear glass headpiece sometimes resemble a tiara, with only a section that is raised above the headband, while at other times the whole band is raised in what might be more accurately called a crown than a tiara.

Pauline Delaney 1991, 17.5cm high
Pauline Delaney 1990, 13cm high
Pauline Delaney undated, 18.5cm high
Pauline Delaney undated, 14.5 high

The variation of sizes in these vessels may be seen most clearly in the following photo from a magazine advertisement in 1987 showing two vases and a bowl all in the one colour.

Pauline Delaney 1987 (photo David Petersen)

Imitation, it is said, is the sincerest form of flattery. Perhaps the next highest form of praise is replication – meaning the original work is reproduced not simply to recreate the original outcome, but also as a research tool intended to discover (or rediscover) elements of the original creative practice. Such was the purpose of another Jam Factory-trained hot glass artist, B. Jane Cowie, in a project to explore the history and practice of studio glass making in South Australia. Cowie’s approach involved reproducing iconic original works of Jam Factory artists ranging from Stanislav Melis to Tom Moore, including this item in the style of Pauline Delaney:

B. Jane Cowie 2003 (Photo: Michael Haines)

In reference to the earlier works in her replication experiments, which included this tiara bowl (remade in the colours of the Corning Museum treasure), Jane Cowie says:

The re-making experience of these pieces was different, as care and effort were the focus as the inflation of the glass was controlled and calm. [The image above] shows that the pieces were created by making an even, smooth, round bubble with even colour and a controlled decorative element.

A variation on the theme of the tiara vase or bowl is the following item, in which the usual transparent single colour vessel is adorned with the clear crimped headpiece. This vase by Pauline Delaney is spherical, rather than the open bowl shape of the others:

Pauline Delaney undated, 12.5cm high

It is always difficult to trace the origin of ideas, especially among artists who are subject to a similar range of influences. So we do not know who is flattering whom, but the following item is signed “J Walsh 1990” and hence comes from another ex-Jam Factory trainee:

John Walsh 1990, 11.5cm high

Pauline Delaney has created much more than the tiara vases and bowls. Among her notable outputs are other bowls in classic shapes, with different treatments of trailed decoration in contrasting colours. She also made many perfume bottles in small permutations of a basic shape and decorative style that is easily recognisable as hers. There is one such item in our earlier article about perfume bottles, and no doubt there will be further consideration of Pauline Delaney's work in future issues of this Australian Glass magazine.

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