For Livvy Fink, glass is about what lies beneath the surface. She is inspired by the material’s depth, volume, and “frozen moments” existing somewhere between its liquid and solid states. “This sense of suspension, I hope, will spark the viewers’ imagination,” she says, “and a sense of discovery, triggering a loss of a sense of scale, with some people perceiving the inside of my glass works as cellular structures and others as galaxies.”
A sculptor living and working in East London, Fink studied at The Royal College of Art and the University of Brighton. Recently, she has been working with astrophysicists from the University of Cambridge Institute of Astronomy and oncologists from Cancer Research on a collaborative project funded by an award from the Welcome Trust Foundation. She is working alongside philosopher Ezra Rubenstein. The project involves “producing a series of new works exploring how the imaginary space within a glass object can illustrate how both the hidden worlds of outer space and of the cells within our bodies are linked through a shared sense of wonder,” she says.
Through this work, Fink has become interested in the similarities between the process of scientific experimentation and the creative and technological aspects of glassmaking. During her 2015 residency at The Studio, Fink carried out a series of controlled experiments, looking at the effect of time, temperature, and density within predefined experimental boundaries. For example, she experimented with the movement of bubbles within primary shapes, watching how they can be moved and controlled during the casting process.
What has your involvement been with The Studio? I was an Artist-in-Residence back in April 2015, for what was a wonderfully exciting and inspiring month. I had spent the previous year working with astronomers and microscopists, and wanted to translate some of the ideas and working methods into my glass work. My residency at The Studio was perfect for this.
What do you like about working at The Studio? Working at The Studio was brilliant; it’s hard to isolate a particular thing that I liked the most as I loved it all. Working in a space with a regularly appearing background of hundreds of glass pumpkins (a sight that never failed to please me greatly) added to an almost surreal sense where everything was working, and everybody I came across was loving what they did (hot shoppers, cold workers, cleaners, and visitors alike). It was AMAZINGLY smooth running, (not only the steady production and packing of the pumpkins), but everything, from the working of the equipment, to how tools are stored on just the right hooks, perfectly-placed shelves, the flatness of the flat bed… I could go on… it was something of a revelation to me. The space made ideas seamlessly easy to follow.
All this was created, of course, by the brilliance of the people who work there, who were endlessly generous in sharing their time, thoughts, expertise, and enthusiasm, and totally made working at The Studio a joy.
When the time finally came that I couldn’t find something I needed—a particular piece of metal that was of a certain diameter and pointiness—having just concluded that perhaps I’d better move on with something else, to my astonishment, Kyle (one of the technicians) appeared with said perfect piece of metal, that he had just gone and ground down for me exactly as I had needed!
As The Studio celebrates its 20th birthday, what would you say about its effect on the glass community? I can certainly say it’s had a big impact on me! I think in many ways it has shifted the way I work and what is possible. As for the whole glass community, I think the enthusiasm of The Studio is infectious, (and if anything, it must be expanding the number of people who will become part of this community). Some of my favorite times were passing through the evening classes, where people were so excited. The energy in the place is something that I think is very special, and creates the perfect space for people to come together and share ideas and their love of the material. Being in The Studio, I felt nestled in amongst all things glass, from the expanding collections of work lining the corridors from artists who have been there before me, and the amount of beautiful objects that you see being made in front of you, to the Museum across the way and the Library to the side, The Studio was the place that it all comes together.
May 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the opening of The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass, one of the foremost teaching schools for glass in the world. To celebrate, we are featuring 20 artists in the 20 weeks leading up to the birthday. These artists have studied, taught, and created at The Studio. Each Saturday, we’ll share words and work from the artists who have formed a connection with our Studio and our staff.