Katharine Coleman | A Fine Line | The Scottish Gallery - November 2019

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KATHARINE COLEMAN A FINE LINE 30 October - 26 November 2019

16 Dundas Street Edinburgh EH3 6HZ +44 (0)131 558 1200 scottish-gallery.co.uk

A FINE LINE Introduction We have enjoyed a close working relationship with Katharine Coleman since 2005, presenting several outstanding solo exhibitions. Coleman’s exhibitions have contributed to an increased appreciation and following of her work, which is collected and cherished by both public collections and private collectors. A Fine Line is a particularly special exhibition for us. Not only does it mark the artist’s 70th year but it is also her last solo exhibition. Katharine is an astute planner as well as a consummate professional and she has planned her retirement with meticulous attention to detail. This does not mean that her career ends here, far from it – she currently has a four year lease on her London studio (a brisk 30 minute walk from her home in central London) and enough ‘blanks’ blown by Andy Potter of Peter Morgan Glass to continue making new work for her remaining time in the studio, as well as continuing to teach glass engraving. Katharine is extremely passionate about teaching glass engraving and is committed to inspiring a younger generation of glass artists as she believes that the full potential of glass as an artistic medium has still to be realised. Now considered one of the UK’s outstanding craftsman, Katharine was awarded an MBE for services to glass engraving in 2009. She was elected an Honorary Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers of London and a Freeman of the City of London in June 2015. Katharine Coleman's last exhibition All the Year Round (2016) was a ‘modest tribute to the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry’, the famous 15th century illuminated manuscript. For each month of the calendar year she made a work in response to the change in season whilst keeping the subject matter personal. A Fine Line features eleven new works which reflect the many locations Katharine has visited to teach glass engraving over the past decade; from New York to Beijing and back home again. Each example is a personal memory of the place and her own art journey, which has since the 1980s been dedicated to glass engraving. Also included in the exhibition are three works from the late 2000s from the Larry Brown Collection. For this special, personal publication, Katharine has written a short essay on the history of glass engraving and we have created a visual index giving further insight into each one of these extraordinary works. There are three strong themes which are at the heart of her glass making; the illusion of a smaller vessel appearing to be suspended inside a larger one; the effect of both reflection and refraction of an engraved outer surface onto the inside surface of a thick walled clear glass vessel and also the sculptural beauty of natural objects. There is so much to respond to in Katharine’s work; there is depth, luminosity, colour, rigour, certainty and most importantly, there is joy. Katharine Coleman is an artist at the height of her powers and we thank her for her honest, human response to glass engraving and her love for what she does. We are honoured to present this final, solo exhibition at The Scottish Gallery. Christina Jansen, Edinburgh, 2019

Katharine Coleman working on Lavender (cat 10) in her London studio, 2019, photo: David Coleman



Morgan Seal 606, grey marble, H1.4 x W3.1 cm, The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, acquired by Pierpont Morgan sometime between 1885 and 19081

The technique of wheel engraving on glass is older than glass itself, originating as it does in its sister craft of lapidary cutting and decoration. So one could say with justification that what is presented here in this catalogue and exhibition would certainly be understood by the craftsmen of ancient Babylon, who cut their exquisite cylinder seals some 5,000 years ago. While glass engraving flourished in Roman times, it migrated with fine glass making skills east to Byzantium and the Sasanian Empires once Roman culture faded from Western Europe. Only centuries later was engraving on glass revived as a craft in Europe alongside the great Post-Renaissance technical leap forward in glassmaking and the demand for richly decorated glassware. Following the success of Caspar Lehmann in Dresden, Saxony and his fellow engravers in Bohemia, glass engraving using copper and stone wheels spread as an art form throughout Europe, though Bohemia remains to this day the fount of knowledge and skill. Teachers and practitioners owe much to those early Bohemian engravers, just as many of us still owe to the skills and knowledge of the post-1945 teachers who started the German Glasfachschulen. Bohemian engravers also taught Russian engravers, Romanian engravers, American engravers and many more.


The rise of the studio glass movement might have brought about a further flowering of glass engraving skills and artistic talent, had the doctrine of 'No Surface Decoration' not pervaded American and British glass schools, leaking into French and other European colleges, leading to the closure of all full time courses in glass engraving in these countries. Very rapidly glass engraving began to be ignored. I was lucky to have been taught glass engraving at Morley College in South London, an adult education college, by Peter Dreiser, a highly skilled German glass engraver who had been one of the first pupils at the Rheinbach Glasfachschule in Germany. The College was poor, so there were no modern diamond wheels, just copper and stone and Peter put me through the achingly difficult exercises he had endured in his time as a pupil in Rheinbach in the early 1950s when the best of Sudeten glass engravers were teaching there. It has been a delight, with the political calm of these last years, to complete the full circle, to sit in the seat and engrave my glass where Bohemian masters Otto Pietsch and Fritz Gloessner once sat and taught at the very oldest glass school in the world, at Steinschoenau, now Kamenicky Ĺ enov. At a summer school in Bild-Werk Frauenau in 2012, Norbert Kalthoff, Wilhelm Vernim and I bewailed the sad decline of glass engraving in the schools and colleges of Europe. We decided to try to stop this by organising glass engravers into a self-help group to show the world that glass engraving is still relevant, still an eloquent, magical and inspiring art form, adopting new techniques and tools along the way and by no means ready to surrender. Together with a small team we have set up the Glass Engraving Network which has made a touring exhibition of museums in seven European countries 2015-16 and is currently at The National Glass Museum, Suomen Lasimuseo of Finland where it will progress in April 2020 to the Modern Glass Museum at Roedenthal, Coburg, Germany for six months. Katharine Coleman London, 2019

1. In one of the most striking of the Morgan's Middle Assyrian seals, a hero pursues an adult ostrich, possibly representing the earthly equivalent of the griffin, the conveyor of death. The fleeing ostrich, with its head turned back in fear and fury and its feathers bristling, ranks among the greatest Mesopotamian depictions of animals. In the biblical Book of Job (39:13–17), the ostrich is considered a malevolent creature because it disdains its young, which may account for the presence of the young ostrich and enhances our understanding of this extraordinary seal.


Katharine Coleman's sketchbook and Kimono (cat 2) in progress in her London studio, 2019



1 Lime, 2019 emerald green glass overlaid on clear lead crystal, blown, cut, polished, wheel and drill engraved H17.7 x D22 cm


3 Kimono Bowl 2019, xxxxx Hxx x Dxx cm

2 Kimono, 2019 Turkish blue glass overlaid on clear lead crystal, blown, cut, polished, wheel and drill engraved H9.2 x D15.5 cm


6 Tree at Ballyglass I 2019, oil on board 15.5 x 12.5 cm

3 Hanami, 2019 ruby glass overlaid on clear lead crystal, blown, cut, polished, wheel and drill engraved H18 x D22 cm


‘The dragon has lost the pearl from his mouth and is out of control as he flies over the apartment blocks and boatfuls of people crowding into the island.’ Katharine Coleman

4 Hong Kong Dreaming, 2019 dark blue glass overlaid on clear lead crystal, blown, cut, polished, wheel and drill engraved H21 x D19 cm


11 Co. Mayo, Evening 2018, oil on board Hong 10 x 13Kong cm Dreaming, 2019 (three views of cat 4)


12 Across Ballyglass IV 2019, oil on board 20 x 12.5 cm


5 Ginkgo, 2019 emerald green glass overlaid on clear lead crystal, blown, cut, polished, wheel and drill engraved H14 x D15 cm


6 Acorns III, 2019 30% lead crystal Whitefriars paperweight (1960s) relief cut, polished H9 x D9 cm


7 Allium, 2019 30% lead crystal Whitefriars paperweight (1960s) relief cut, polished H9 x D9 cm


8 Californian Poppies, 2019 yellow glass overlaid on clear lead crystal, blown, cut, polished, wheel and drill engraved H8 x D15.5 cm


9 Cherries, 2019 ruby glass overlaid on clear lead crystal, blown, cut, polished, wheel and drill engraved H6.5 x D12 cm


10 Lavender, 2019 heliotrope glass overlaid on clear lead crystal, blown, cut, polished, wheel and drill engraved H12.5 x D15.5 cm



11 Tulips, 2019 copper ruby glass overlaid on clear lead crystal, blown, cut, polished, wheel and drill engraved H20.5 x D16 cm



A Fine Line also features three earlier works by Katharine Coleman that were in the collection of Larry Brown. ‘In 2003, Larry Brown wandered into the glass engraving studio at Morley College just as I was finishing the class. Frustrated at not being able to get my contact number or address when he admired my work at the 2003 Jerwood Glass Prize finalists’ show at the Crafts Council, he had read the blurb on the wall which said I taught at Morley….. and thus began a very pleasant friendship. An avid book collector, Larry had retired from a demanding career with IBM to Boulder, Colorado and came over to London at least once a year. He had strolled into the glass exhibition quite by chance and claimed to be smitten with my work. How flattering, being so very early in my engraving career! A fan! He was a quietly spoken, intelligent man with a very dry sense of humour and we got on very well indeed. With each visit, Larry would buy a small piece – small enough for his hand luggage – and his small collection grew steadily as my work developed. He would proudly photograph his collection on his windowsill in Colorado. Years later, when much older and really frail, he sadly admitted that he had come on his last visit and wanted something special, so he persuaded me to part with the fishbowl. What a dear friend he was, greatly missed by so many of us.’ Katharine Coleman London, 2019

12 Small Haeckel with Amber Pattern, c.2006 amber glass overlaid on clear lead crystal, blown, cut, polished, wheel and drill engraved H9 x D10 cm 13 Small Ruby Feather Star, c.2008 ruby glass overlaid on clear lead crystal, blown, cut, polished, wheel and drill engraved H7 x D10 cm 14 Goldfish, c.2008 ruby over gold glass overlaid on clear lead crystal, blown, cut, polished, wheel and drill engraved H6.5 x D11.5 cm





Standing between Corning Museum of Glass and Corning Inc. offices in upstate New York, there are six mature lime trees which in late June flower prolifically. The warm humid air carries the delicious, heady scent for some distance away from the busy highway towards the Studio entrance, past which I walk daily on my way to teach engraving in the Museum Studio. Morning and evening, everyone else hurries past in their air conditioned cars, unaware of this exquisite treat, the inspiration of Rueckert’s romantic poem, set to music for contralto voice by Gustav Mahler, “Ich atmet einen linden Duft…”

The Meiji Shrine in central Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, is always busy with weddings and celebrations of every kind: formal, informal, Shinto and Buddhist, modest couples with very few attendants alongside formal processions of hundreds, brides often in virginal white wearing layer upon layer of kimono with their formal head dresses covered in white protective silk. But the kimonos! Heavy brocades sweeping by, the formal chrysanthemum of the Meiji Emperors adorning the temple pillars and gates, the blue sky making a brief appearance, requiring a bustle of umbrellas. Children racing around in wild circles and jumping from the temple steps, trying to land in the inset bronze circle on the courtyard floor to secure good fortune. I was visiting Tokyo for the second time, taking part in a British Crafts Council mixed media exhibition in the Axis Gallery, Roppongi in 2007.


HANAMI Visiting Tokyo with the British Crafts Council in 2005, I was walking towards the British Embassy for a meeting, along the avenue in pretty Chiyoda-ku district, Tokyo, lined with flowering cherry trees. I saw two ladies in full traditional dress hurrying to a reception in the same place, their perfect, heavy silk kimonos decorated with seasonal flowers, pattering along in their white stockings on stiff lacquered pattens, chattering like birds in the sunshine. Cherry blossom time is known as Hanami, both a time to celebrate spring with joy and reflect poignantly on the passage of the years.

HONG KONG DREAMING En route to Beijing to give a lecture in 2010, I stopped off at Hong Kong. It seems to belong both to the East and yet still to the West. Today this situation has become grave. On my bowl, the great dragon of China has lost the pearl from his mouth and now breathes wild fire over the roofs of the modern apartment blocks of Hong Kong, roaring at everyone and everything in wild abandon and maddened rage at their impudence. People take to the boats to flee as others arrive. I chose to represent this with a blue overlaid bowl, imitating the imagery of ceramics from a bygone age.




Visiting the glass artist and departmental professor Donghai Guan at Tsinghua University (Beijing) to give a talk to his students about engraving, I took the opportunity to see Beijing as a tourist. Approaching from Tiananmen Square, on the left there is an avenue of ancient ginkgo biloba trees lining the side entrance to the Forbidden City, leading towards the old private apartments. By early September they were already carrying fully formed green fruits, long before the leaves turned their stupendous gold. The elegant fruits are seldom seen in Europe. They are a lovely shape when green before they ripen gold, then later brown and squashy when the leaves turn a full gold, dropping in a soft stinking mess on the paved road. Popular locally to eat, Europeans cannot bear the smell which is why we only plant male trees.

We Britons regard the oak as a symbol of our nation’s bravery, strength and endurance. So do Germans. They see the oak as representing their best qualities: stolid, loyal and reliable, never giving an inch. Frauenau is a small town in the Bavarian Forest, famous for factory and studio glass, still doggedly surviving industrial change in this new century. I regularly teach at a summer school there. In 1945 the inhabitants could not afford a stone memorial to all the young and old who lost their lives – by no means Nazis all – and so instead planted a pair of upright oaks either side of the path to the local school. There they stand, old school friends, shoulder to shoulder, tall, green, silent, bearing witness to the loss of so many earlier children who took that same path.




One of my favourite spring flowers, allium comes in various forms and shades of pink, purple, blue and white. Allium is the name of the cultivated garlic family: flowering onion, garlic, scallion, shallot, leek and chives, all producing a distinctive ball of florets popular with bees and other insects in spring and early summer and indispensable to cooks. Many are planted as ornamental plants, though the edible onion, garlic and chive will also produce attractive flowers if allowed to ‘bolt’. Although native to the Northern Hemisphere, I saw a wonderful display this last year in Wellington, New Zealand when invited to speak and demonstrate at the first joint Australian and New Zealand CoLab Conference (AusGlass and NZSAG) in Wanganui in 2019.

These curiously formed orange and yellow flowers grow well all over Europe, much as they flourish in their homeland – self-sown on scrubland, carefully cultivated in flower beds, their colour is so bright and cheerful. Why they are called poppies at all though, that is the question. They have no relation whatsoever to the common red poppy of Europe. Their form, rather, reminds one of Art Deco Wilshire Boulevard in LA. Their sharp, clean lines and their habit of folding in the evening is fascinating. I first saw them in California and since then notice them in so many places.




On a warm day in July this year, on my regular midday stroll along Leather Lane Street Market, just around the corner from my new studio in Cockpit Yard in Holborn, a fruit stall caught my attention with its cascade of ripe, dark, rich, red cherries. Hurrying back to draw an idea for a little ruby overlaid bowl, it was soon clear it would be necessary to have some to study, so out again, half a kilo in a leaky paper bag later, the race was on to draw the beauties before temptation took its toll.

Lavender comes in so many subtle shades of blue and purple, even white. This particular colour I first saw a few years ago in the gardens of West Dean, near Chichester when I was there to teach a short course in glass engraving. Founder and Surrealist patron Edward James left his beautiful house and estate to an educational trust which now teaches a rich variety of long and short courses in the arts and crafts. The surrounding gardens and park provide inspiration and peace for students and tutors alike, while the Salvador Dali telephone and furniture sit easily among the tapestries and armour, the Chinese ceramics and stuffed animals from another age.


TULIPS On a sunny afternoon two years ago, on a brief visit in April to Bruges en route to Germany, my husband and I strolled by chance into a little brick walled garden in the heart of the old city beside a canal, planted out in formal patterns of brick paths and flower beds with white pheasant eye narcissi and tall, bruised red tulips. These tulips were almost scarlet when the sun shone through their petals, oxblood with the light on them from the front, just as in this vase. As I unpacked the vase when it came from the glassblowers, I changed my plans immediately, knowing precisely what was needed.


BIOGRAPHY Katharine Coleman MBE b.1949 Sutton Coldfield

Katharine Coleman is a freelance glass engraver and designer. She was taught point, drill and copper wheel engraving on glass by Peter Dreiser at Morley College, Lambeth from 1984-87 and continues to explore these techniques at her workshop at Cockpit Arts in London. Katharine engraves on clear lead crystal forms, overlaid with coloured glass, blown to her design. Her work requires close collaboration with glassblowers Potter Morgan Glass and Sonja Klingler. Once blown and annealed, the top surface of the glass is cut and polished to allow one to see inside the piece, usually with the help of coldworker Steve Frey of Cold Glass Workshop, Frome. It is then engraved on the outside surface. The engraved decoration reflects and refracts onto the inner surface, creating an illusion of one body floating inside another. The inspiration for her work ranges from natural history to the modern urban landscape. Katharine’s work has been exhibited widely in the UK and Europe, USA and Japan and can be seen in many public collections. She feels strongly that wheel engraving on glass does not need to be traditional in style or content. She prefers traditional techniques, engraving the glass surface with lathe-mounted copper, diamond and stone wheels, with which she is able to obtain the crispness, textures and fine finish; so difficult to achieve with sandblast and drill.



Selected exhibitions A Fine Line, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh

Gravur on Tour - Riihimaki Finland to Coburg British Glass Biennale 2019, Ruskin Glass Centre, Stourbridge COLLECT, The Saatchi Gallery, London 2018

TEFAF Maastricht 2019, the Netherlands


Masterpiece London, Chelsea, London

TEFAF Maastricht 2018, the Netherlands

Celebrating 80, London Glassblowing Gallery, London Water and Music, Contemporary Glass Society, Pyramid Gallery, York TEFAF Maastricht 2017, the Netherlands


Masterpiece London, Chelsea, London


TEFAF Maastricht 2016, the Netherlands

Connections, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh Drawing – An Expressive Gesture with the Advantage of Permanence, National Glass Centre, Sunderland All The Year Round, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh TEFAF Maastricht 2015, the Netherlands

British Glass Biennale 2015, Ruskin Glass Centre, Stourbridge COLLECT, The Saatchi Gallery, London

Public collections include 2014

Masterpiece London, Chelsea, London

COLLECT, The Saatchi Gallery, London Coburger Glaspreis, Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg, Germany UK Glass, Het Glazenhuis, Lommel, Belgium TEFAF Maastricht 2014, the Netherlands

Spectrum, The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh A Sea of Glass, The Dutch National Glass Museum, Leerdam, the Netherlands 2013

Katharine Coleman, Galerie Hélène Porée, Paris In the Name of Love, Alexander Tutsek Stiftung, Munich TEFAF Maastricht 2013, the Netherlands

Alexander Tutsek Stiftung, Munich Bavarian State Glass Museum, Frauenau, Germany Birmingham City Art Gallery & Museum Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum Corning Museum of Glass, USA Dudley Museums, Kingswinford, Stourbridge Ernsting Stiftung, Coesfeld, Germany Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge Glass Museum, Kamenický Šenov, Czech Republic Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg, Germany MUDAC Lausanne, Switzerland Museo de la Real Fabrica de Cristales de La Granja, Segovia, Spain National Glass Centre, Sunderland National Museums Northern Ireland National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh Dan Klein & Alan J. Poole, National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh Northlands Creative Glass Centre, Lybster Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Ginkgo, 2019, H14 x D15 cm (detail cat 5)


Published by The Scottish Gallery to coincide with the exhibition Katharine Coleman A Fine Line 30 October - 26 November 2019

My best thanks to Christina Jansen and Kirsty Sumerling at The Scottish Gallery for all their kind help and encouragement. I am also indebted to: Andy and Becky Potter of Potter Morgan Glass for blowing the colour overlaid glass for me to my design, Andy McConnell for the 1960s Whitefriars paperweight blanks and to Steve Frey, my unflappable coldworking hero, who has cut and polished the tops and bases of all the colour overlaid glass. Thank you all! Exhibition can be viewed online at: scottish-gallery.co.uk/afineline ISBN: 978-1-912900-11-4 Photography by William Van Esland Photography p3, 6, 7, 32-37 by Katharine Coleman Front cover: Lime, 2019, H17.7 x D22 cm (detail cat 1) Inside front cover and back cover: Californian Poppies, 2019, H8 x D15.5 cm (detail cat 8) Inside back cover: Cherries, 2019, H6.5 x D12 cm (detail cat 9) Designed and produced by The Scottish Gallery Printed by J Thomson Printers All rights reserved. No part of this catalogue may be reproduced in any form by print, photocopy or by any other means, without the permission of the copyright holders and of the publishers.



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