The Changing Nature of Architectural Glass. A narrative of one artist’s commissioned works realised between 1990 and 2012 in the North East of England.
Watkinson, Cate (2014) The Changing Nature of Architectural Glass. A narrative of one artist’s commissioned works realised between 1990 and 2012 in the North East of England. PhD thesis, University of Sunderland.
This PhD maps a body of work by Cate Watkinson, artist and designer specialising in glass. Through selected commissioned works, the research documents the development of the practice from 1990-2012. The thesis establishes the unique contribution to knowledge made by the integration of glass in public spaces. The PhD demonstrates how research and advances in the field of glass technology has influenced the work and how the cited works have then contributed to the increasing potential of the use of glass in the built environment. Evolving from ‘2D’ pieces in stained glass in the 1990’s, the commentary charts the development of the work towards ‘3D’ pieces placed in the public realm. It also considers how changes in government regeneration policies have contributed to the creation of these original works. All artworks cited, including glass and solar powered public seating, sculptural pieces in Gateshead, Newcastle’s Quayside, and North Tyneside’s Police Headquarters, are situated in public spaces. They offer examples in the use of new techniques, which have been applied in innovative and creative ways. These new practices include exploring the innovative qualities of the material, combining text, imagery and light with glass, setting the works in an environment where glass is still perceived by the public as presenting some risk. Through the analysis of sketchbooks, illustrations, photographs, designs, letters, press cuttings and emails, the PhD reflects upon and evaluates the unique contribution made by each work. Each commission is considered in terms of qualitative and contextual research, the testing of the material and a reflective analysis of the process. Supporting this are illustrations of the works and a list of publications with reference to the submitted works. The approaches illustrated are useful to the researcher exploring developments in the external applications of glass, the public artist and the art historian investigating the contribution the work has made to the urban landscape of the North East.
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