Australian-based artist Wendy Fairclough has been announced as one of the Tylee Cottage Residents for 2016.
After gaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking and sculpture at the South Australian School of Art in the early 1990s, Fairclough followed up with training in adult education. While there, she was so inspired by a glassblowing workshop run by Nick Mount that she returned to the School of Art to study under Clare Belfrage and Gabriella Bisetto, graduating with a glass major in a Bachelor of Applied Arts degree in 2000. During the 2000s she was further encouraged through a scholarship to the Pilchuck Glass School in the United States, and a number of grants to work in different places. By 2016 she was a well-known glass artist who had also exhibited regularly in New Zealand, Asia, the United States and Canada, and was represented in a number of collections, including the national art museums of Australia and New Zealand.
Fairclough has been glassblowing for some years, usually making vessels in variations of soft, pale colours, while sometimes—as with Point of Arrival after William Fox (2007)—drawing on her printmaking background to incorporate engraving. Eventually she came to focus on casting forms in lead crystal using the lost-wax process. Her procedure is to make silicone rubber moulds of each form, into which wax is poured; the wax form is then finely finished and hand-covered in a silica and plaster mould, before being steamed out and replaced with molten glass. After annealing—or cooling slowly—the glass is cold-worked with surface finishing processes such as cutting, grinding, laminating, sandblasting and hand lapping.
Most of Fairclough’s works are presented in groups which she identifies as compositions and installations, sometimes including found objects, and she has recently also started casting in concrete and aluminium. As Australian artist and educator Roy Ananda notes: “The basic building blocks of Fairclough’s work are common, domestic objects, transposed into glass by way of casting, blowing and cold-working. These objects form the basis of carefully arranged tableaux that blend a painter’s understanding of light, colour and composition with an acute sensitivity to the poetic possibilities of objects in space.”
Wendy Fairclough’s post-Tylee Cottage Residency exhibition will be at the Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui, late November 2017 to early February 2018.