ArtChat [Blog Interview Number 22] – Keith Rowe

Master Glass Artist Keith Rowe is one of Australia’s most successful, contemporary, and innovative glass artists. He creates balanced forms with exciting decorative elements, and his skills are embedded in the traditions of Italian Masters. Keith explores ideas to deliver new directions for each collection, and is passionate about creating objects that ‘transcend the mundane’. His works are held in collections across Australia, including the Powerhouse Museum, Ritz Carlton, and New Parliament House in Sydney, NSW, and the National Gallery in Canberra, ACT.AC             Why Glass? How did you get introduced to this medium and what do you love about it? KR              From photography to glass via Art school. Whilst attending SCA to explore my photography I attended a minor glass program and found hot glass blowing. The challenge was the first pull then the texture of the hot material followed by the use of colour.

AC             Describe your aesthetic style in a few sentences… KR              Form and decoration are the important aspects of the work I make.

AC             Australian class artists are considered to be some of the best glass artisans in the world because they know no boundaries… do you feel you can relate to this comment as a glass artist yourself? KR              I don’t think Australian glass makers are of any greater creative force than any other nationality. There is a distinctive style that has developed over the years due to the isolationist effect. I enjoy the space that this country gives and allows me to explore my own identity.

AC             What influences you and motivates you to continue to create? KR              My whole life is the driver. All that surrounds me is the source of the designs. I have no options; my mind is always looking for new things to work with.

AC             What does your art mean to you and what do you hope it means to your collectors? KR              Each piece releases a part of me allowing space for the new ideas. For collectors hopefully there will a sense of excitement when I show new pieces.

AC             You live in an extremely beautiful part of Australia, tell our readers what you love about the Blue Mountains KR              Blackheath has really become my home. The area has many reminders of my growing up in the East Coast Bays of Auckland New Zealand.  It is a perfect climate for the glass blower with a low humidity and cooler temps than my years spent in Glebe Sydney.

AC             Your wife Kayo Yokoyama recently had her first exhibition at Red Hill. How did you two meet; and did you introduce Kayo to the medium of glass? KR              My first meeting was when I was invited to attend Sanda Glass Centre in Japan. Kayo was a student and was a great help as she was the only one that could speak English clearly.  We met when I was doing a part time teaching position at SCA in Sydney and kayo was doing her undergraduate degree.

AC             How do you spend your time when you are not working? KR              Before becoming a glass maker I was a dedicated photographer, this is still a big part of my art practice. I ride a beautiful Moto Guzzi motorcycle, do bush walks in and around my immediate environment, and I have fun with my children by going out west into the outback camping. There is so much about life that leaves one unable to be bored

AC             What do your children think about your art? Will they follow in the family footsteps and become glass artists too? KR              The boys (this includes Jack) have wanted to come to work and pull glass out of the furnace. Jack my oldest son worked in the glass works for quite a few years and has moved into another career. There are many costs in life and to be an artist costs a great deal. If the return is worth the cost then for my children I would say go for it.

AC             Do you think your art, or perception of your art, has developed overtime? KR              Before art school my understanding of art was primitive. To achieve what I have done has required a concerted effort to attend shows and do research and as I grow so too does my comprehension of how art and life co-exist.

AC             What is your favourite thing to do as a family? KR              Camping, bush walking, watching movies, playing games inside and outdoors really just hanging out together

AC             Finally, what can we expect from you in your upcoming exhibition? KR              A continuing story of colour, my searching for the combinations that cause the emotions to open.  I look forward to seeing you there. Keith Rowe is exhibiting soon at Red Hill Gallery - Veiw the entire collection HERE.