Saturday, 21 November 2015

Michael Hook perfume bottles

Michael Hook operated a production glassware studio called Resolution Glassworks, located in the inner Melbourne suburb of Kensington, from 1984 until 2005. He had trained initially at the Jam Factory in Adelaide in 1980-82, and afterwards worked as a trainee in Nick Mount’s Budgeree Glass (then still located at Budgeree in Victoria) in 1982 and 83.

Unlike those artists who sought professional rewards in exhibitions and prizes, or found employment in a university, his focus as a glassmaker was high-class production wares. In his own words:

I’m not interested in presenting my work as art. What I make is purely craft. (Interview in Craft Victoria, 1986.)

Michael Hook is especially well known for the various styles of perfume bottles he created. Many of these designs are shown below, in roughly chronological order.

Apart from the very earliest specimen on the left, note the elegant translucent single-colour bubbles, complemented by the gentle optical ribbing. Note also the additional interest provided by a twist stopper suggesting a rose blossom.

The first two bottles on the left in this second photo continue the style based on a single-colour bubble, apart from having a clear foot as on a wine glass. They also have shaped stoppers, although somewhat simpler than the elaborate twists seen earlier. These two specimens show considerable difference in size. By contrast, the next two bottles have neither of these leading features. Instead of a single, uniform colour, these have an explosion of closely-toned coloured chips. They also differ in having heavy casing to form the base, instead of the earlier wine-glass foot. In a further difference, the stopper tops are simple spheres.

Single colouring makes a comeback in the leftmost two examples in this next photo, as does the twist stopper, albeit in a slightly muted form. The bases are again formed by a heavy casing in clear, although now the casing stops half way up the bottle. A novelty is the large air bubble deliberately trapped within the clear base. The third example differs from the previous two not only in having a much taller but still incomplete casing, but it adds the decorative features of embedded gold foil and a slightly flattened stopper top. The fourth example is spherical and fully cased, but with more weight towards the bottom to give the appearance of a base.

The first item on the left in this fourth photo is very similar to the last item in the previous case, differing in having a smaller bubble but with correspondingly heavier clear casing below. In the second bottle along the ribs of old reappear, this time on the outside of heavy clear casing, which again surrounds a bubble in a single colour. The elegant stopper top echos the ribs in the casing of the bottle.

The third bottle stretches upward a full 22.5cm to the top of the very tall stopper. The last item is not a bottle at all, but instead a solid glass paperweight. Note the line of controlled bubbles, a feature shared with the preceding tall bottle.

Perfume bottles and paperweights are not the only items made by Michael Hook at Resolution Glassworks in Kensington. Various blown glass vessels such as goblets, vases and bowls were also produced, but these other items seem not to have attained the status of ‘production’ items to the same extent as the perfume bottles.

Several other well-known glass artists worked at Resolution. Anne Hand had overlapped with Michael Hook in trainee slots with Nick Mount at Budgeree. She subsequently helped to set up the studio at Kensington and worked there until her untimely death in 1995. As we noted in the blog item on the ‘tiara’ bowls and vases, Pauline Delaney also worked at the Resolution studio for several years, having known Hook from their shared time at the Jam Factory. Patrick Wong was a long-time assistant to Michael Hook, as well as helping Anne Hand and Pauline Delaney, before becoming an independent artist with his own glassblowing studio in Melbourne.

Michael Hook closed Resolution Glassworks in late 2005 and moved on to other things. He was full time glass design and production advisor to Jenggala Keramic in Bali for three years from 2006-09. In this role he succeeded Richard Morrell, although more in a consulting capacity and based in Melbourne rather than as an on-site production manager.

What is Michael Hook doing now? Since early 2012, he has been an undergraduate student in architecture at Victoria University in Melbourne.


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