AFTEr tasting success regionally and nationally over the past few years, international acclaim beckons for Duns glassblower Graham Muir thanks to an invite to exhibit at a world renowned event - the International Festival of Glass.
It’s been a memorable 24 months for Graham, who runs Hot Glass in Station Yard. After plucking up the courage to try his luck in competitions against his fellow glass artistes, his mantelpiece started filling up with awards.
His first arrived courtesy of his success at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in the autumn of 2009. Graham couldn’t have hoped for a better debut at the Manchester event after taking home the ‘Best in Show’ accolade which was voted for by his peers.
And he carried on his winning streak at the same event last year, lifting the trophy for Best Selected Maker. The honour was bestowed on him by professional photographic company - James Photography - after snappers singled out his wave sculpture as the best piece to photograph.
Sandwiched in between these two awards was a third statue, this time from last summer’s Art in Action show, where his wave sculpture was named Best of the Best by his fellow exhibitors.
Graham also tasted success at last year’s Glass Biennale. The event was held in Stourbridge last summer but interest in Graham’s pieces continued well into the new year and organisers told him they’d never had an artist who’d generated so many enquiries.
So Graham said trying his luck overseas seemed like the next logical step, although he admitted his entry to the Luxembourg-based Festival of Glass, was some what last minute.
“I saw a piece about it in a glass maker’s newsletter that I get sent to me,” Graham told ‘The Berwickshire News’.
“I read about it on the Friday and the applications had to be in on the Monday so I quickly got something together and sent it off.
“A few months or so later I found out I’d been included in the lineup which was a pleasant surprise.
“Although I don’t know too much about the festival I know it’s a highly thought of event in the glass world.
“I’d never thought of entering anything like this until I started winning the awards so I’m going with no expectations whatsoever; I know the standard will be really high. It’s quite an expensive risk to take but you’ve got to take opportunities like this when they come up.”
Instead of the International Festival of Glass being confined to one venue, the event will have exhibitions in three different places in Luxembourg throughout August and September, meaning that Graham has to send over at least six different pieces for display.
“The invite said exhibitors were expected to bring along six-20 pieces,” he continued.
“Six is a big enough ask never mind 20 and because of other commitments it’s looking like I’ll have to ship my work over first; two for each of the galleries.
“I will make the effort to go over for the festival as I’m hoping it will start opening some doors for me in Europe. The Biennale, Art in Action and Contemporary Craft Fair have helped get my name recognised more in the UK and I’m hoping the International Festival of Glass will do the same for my profile in Europe.”
Looking at the list of exhibitors in Luxembourg, Graham found himself in good company, amongst many artistes who he has great admiration for and he said he was hoping to rub shoulders with a few once he got over there.
“There are people on the list who I’ve followed for years- I don’t know what the pubs are like out there but it would be good to have a drink with a few of them.
“I like going to the bigger events as it’s then that you get the opportunity to meet your peers and look at the work they’ve been doing as well as getting some feedback on your own.
“Working on my own it’s difficult for me to tell what people will make of my pieces until I take them to exhibitions. I got a big boost from my win at Art in Action last year, as that was an award voted for by my fellow artists and that gave me the confidence to make a go of things on an international level.
“It’s nice to know that people think I’m doing something a bit different as it’s not that easy when you’re working with an age old medium like glass.”
As well as taking his work overseas, local art fans will also get a chance to see the fruits of Graham’s labour over the summer at the Gymnasium Gallery, Berwick from August 6-September 4 and at Number 4 gallery in St Abbs.