The acclaimed Venetian glassblower Lino Tagliapietra created this large spherical sculpture at a public demonstration on March 14, 2014, during the symposium on archeology and ancient and Islamic glass held at the Museum in honor of the Museum’s former director David B. Whitehouse (1941–2013).
A longtime friend of Dr. Whitehouse, Tagliapietra spent nearly an hour at the furnace making this piece, which involved several different glassblowing processes. After the sculpture was completed, Tagliapietra graciously donated it to the Museum in Whitehouse’s memory.
The murrine romane (Roman mosaic) technique was developed in the 1950s at the Venini glassworks on the island of Murano. To make Africa, small pieces of blue, white, and green glasses were arranged in a pattern, fused inside of a kiln, and then cooled, in advance. Later, at the furnace, the rectangular panel of glass was reheated, covered with colorless glass gathered from the furnace, picked up by Tagliapietra on the blowpipe and shaped into a bubble. The bubble was then dipped in an optic mold to give it texture, the dark blue glass powder was applied, and Tagliapietra continued to gradually expand and shape the form until the desired size was achieved.
—Tina Oldknow, Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass