2013 Australian Craft Awards

Refraction XI

Image Credit : Greg Piper


Winner Winner 


The interaction between light, glass and water is the keystone for my bespoke pieces. My Refraction series looks at how light refracts through water and glass in a similar way. Refraction XI uses LED light shone through hot sculpted glass pieces to capture refracted light images on glass screens. The effects produced are reminiscent of micro-organisms, shells and X-ray images. The work displays its mechanism in a simple and elegant way to demonstrate this intriguing phenomenon, while providing calming mood lighting.



Christine Atkins
assisted by Prodigy Electrical


The inspiration for my research comes from observation of natural phenomena involving light and water. Observing the colour of water at different depths, or the shadow of a leaf on the bottom of a shallow pool, I wanted to capture something of these moments in nature.
Parallel to this, I am fascinated by the qualities of glass, and thoroughly enjoy the process of working with hot glass. I discovered that LEDs projected through hot-worked glass create captivating images that reminded me of light shining through water. By suspending these elements, the air currents in the room cause the items to sway slightly, making the image shift, pulsate and appear more 3-dimensional.

Design Challenge

Refraction XI is a multifaceted work designed to fit in a large area, with space around it so people can view it from all directions. However, the fine detail and small scale of each image draws the viewer in, inviting a closer look.
The electronics and the supporting structure of the piece are visible and so need to complement the overall aesthetic of the work. There were also practical problems to be overcome in choosing and mounting appropriate light sources.
It took some time to understand how to work the hot glass to create an interesting refracted image. Once I had gained this knowledge I then needed to relax my approach and allow the glass shape to form naturally and so best demonstrate its intrinsic properties.
A challenge was moving up in scale from relatively small and more 2-dimensional works to a much larger 3-dimensional piece. There are also challenges in breaking into a market for these large scale works, which are suited to spaces with high ceilings, such as foyers and commercial workspaces.
I have immensely enjoyed making this work and wish to continue making works on this scale in the future.

This award celebrates creative and innovative craftsmanship for either a component or overall product. Consideration given to concept, originality, function, aesthetic and energy effectiveness.

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