Edmond Byrne is an Irish glass blower producing artworks and vessels from mould blown glass. Taking influence from the work of renowned glass artist Geoffrey Baxter, Edmond has re-interpreted Geoffrey’s undulating, vibrant forms through his own innovative approach, blowing glass into hand-made moulds covered with a clay patina. Edmond Byrne’s work has received numerous awards including the Dan Klein Memorial Award in 2011 as well as being exhibited amongst several international collections.
Edmond Byrne is a glass artist and educator with an experimental approach to process and making that explores tactility, colour psychology, sustainability, and digital craft. He has an MA for the Royal College of Art, Ceramics and Glass and a B.Des in Craft Design from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, and holds a Senior Lecturer position at De Montfort University's multidisciplinary Design Crafts course. His work is exhibited internationally and is included in the V&A Museum, Ulster Museum and The National Collection, Ireland. He has received prestigious awards including the RDS Irish Craft Award, the Dan Klein Memorial Award, and the Pilchuck Partner Scholarship.
Edmond Byrne creates each mould using materials like clay, fabric and plaster that introduce unpredictable, unique elements to each piece. Once blown, a crackled, clay patina is left behind on the glass’ surface evoking ancient glass artefacts. Edmond's approach to craft is experimental. The themes of assembly, stacking and play run consistently througout his practice, and he works with a library of textures and forms to achieve his exquisite final pieces.
1. What motivates you to make?
Often people talk about making as a way of satisfying the human need to work with the hands and be creative. For me, it is all of this and more because it also satisfies that human desire for the mind, body and imagination to be integrated in the activity of thinking through making. This is the unison of embodied knowledge, know how and creative freedom. In a time where cognitive intelligence is at the fore in an increasingly virtual experience of the world, mastering a material through making exquisite objects that imbue emotion and carry concepts, engages deeply with the whole spectrum of the mind. This practice results in objects that stake out their presence in the world, artefacts of curiosity, thoughts and labour and perhaps evidence of my consciousness.
2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?
I work primarily in mould blown glass. A Roman invention, reinvented by the industrial revolution, and rediscovered as a creative process by Tapie Wirkala, Iittala Glassworks and Geoffrey Baxter, Whitefriars Glassworks in the 1960s. The main driver for my work is my curiosity for the material, which I experiment with to learn more about. Questions are raised through craft practice. I'm interested in our perceptions of colour and its relationship with emotion. Rothko is a big influence for me, particularly his composition of colour. My approach to building moulds can be compared to Eduardo Paolozzi’s approach to sculptural assembly, working with a library of forms and textures to construct an overall composition. Automatic Drawing is also a part of my creative practice; I’m curious about how drawings can translate into moulds and then glass.
3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?
My approach to craft is experimental. I seek to discover a library of visual language to develop into coherent exquisite objects. For the Ensemble Collection, I worked with predetermined elements, beautiful fragments with their own history, dominated by their stark disposable utility. These fragments were found off-cuts picked up off the floor, discarded from the blown glass objects that I make. I found myself with the task of bringing these pieces together to create complete and exquisite objects. This was led by the use of low energy yet time consuming hand making processes; grinding, polishing and carving to perfection. A consistent thread in my practice is assembly, stacking and play, working with a library of textures and forms. This creativity set the stage for building exquisite objects to form this collection.
4. What is your defining or proudest moment as a maker so far?
My work is in the collections of the V&A Museum, Ulster Museum and the National Collection of Ireland. I won the RDS Craft Award 2018, and was shortlisted for the Jerwood Makers Open and the Penland Fellowship. I was also the 2011 winner of the Dan Klein Memorial Bursary from the Contemporary Glass Society.
5. What is your dream project?
A monumental work about colour in glass approximately 5m x 5m made of tubular glass components hanging in a square grid pattern. Hanging from the ceiling, stretching all the way down, just hovering over the floor. They will be made of clear glass. One single red rod in the centre positioned towards the back. A light from the back of the cube will illuminate the red, allowing the colour to bleed through the rest of the rods.
To find out more about commissioning Edmond Byrne for a bespoke piece or to be kept informed about new collections from this particular maker, please email [email protected]