“Exquisite”, “Unique” and “Dramatic “are some of the adjectives used to describe Tina Cooper’s glass sculptures. One of the leading figures in Australian Studio glass, she uses Nature – Earth, Fire, Water and Air – to create her art, reflecting her passionate relationship with the environment from which she sources her inspiration.
The Sealife Bottle pictured is 40cm to the lip of the bottle with the stopper inserted adding 13cm to the height (53cm). The base at it’s widest is 16cm with the widest part of the bottle being 16cm as well. There are two fish 13cm x 12cm – the green one and the orange blue lipped fish is approx 9cm x 9cm – three shellsand a lovely stoney multi coloured thing. Waves of green seaweed stand strikingly amongst the fish, shells and orange anemone.
Each sculpture is precise in its execution. Ensuring the perfect piece requires Tina to “dance with fire” orchestrating five highly skilled artisans who work in unison to provide hot pieces of glass for her to create her magic. Every part of the process is critical. Each piece is individually hand-made from liquid currents of molten glass drawn from a 1200c furnace and then fused, layered and placed around a vessel.
The “Sea Life” and “Enchanted Forest” series are full of floral and aquatic allusions inspired from the Great Barrier Reef and the beaches and hinterland of the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia. The Great Barrier Reef Series was inevitable. Whenever I can sneak a holiday, I love to dive with the fish and coral and be in their world for a little while. I like to sit on the bottom and be very still and just observe the passing parade. It is a fascinating place to be and I find it invigorates my soul. Watching the clown fish weaving in and out of the flowing anemones, the colours of the coral and the way everything interacts effortless with each other.
I started testing this series in 1999. We had no reference to go off, and because I was using hot on hot technique we had a lot of heartaches, tears and major financial costs involved to perfect it. With steadfast perseverance we nailed the process and this is my most acclaimed series. I perfected the process just in time for Raglan Gallery to take my Great Barrier Reef to SOFA. I represented Australia at SOFA, Chicago, USA in 2001 and it is still one of my proudest moments. It takes my whole team of 4 to pull these off over several non stop hours. My right hand man – Matty, used to be a professional fisherman and he is great at doing the fish. We weave the sea life parts into the glass, building up the layers a bit at a time, repetitively going in an out of the furnace every 15 seconds over how ever many hours needed.
It is a highly taxing and mentally demanding time because as it build’s up it gets heavier, the error for mistakes increases and we have to keep swapping gaffers around as arms get tired.
I evaluate them as I make them and add a touch here, another coral or fish piece or a tweak there and when I think that piece is finished and I am happy with it, they are put in the annealing kiln for 2 days.
It is always exciting and with held breath that the kiln door is opened when cold, and you see the finished result.
The Great Barrier Reef Series are about the wonder of the underwater world and how it transforms and mesmerizes me. I work purely from my memory without photo’s and wish to impart to the viewer a window of life into a watery world.
Tina’s creations can be found around the world – in Europe, Japan and the USA.