Hazel Burnham – Artist Spotlight

Hazel Burnhams work is currently lighting up the gallery with an explosion of colour.  As a glass artist myself I have to admit to being a colour addict and Hazels work  has that sense of exuberance that  really hits the spot.  Her use of bright jewel like colours just can’t help but attract attention.  Her work in the gallery is displayed either as free standing wall or 3D pieces or as  back lit ‘lamps’ which really bring those amazing colours to life.  Hazels work will be available in the gallery until the first weekend in November and here she talks in more details about her background and thoughts as an artist.

To be inspired is an exciting state to be in!  For me, it is the feeling that I am on the brink of something new and it is at that point the suddenly the ideas can come in a flood.  This is also the point that work is the most vital for me – to explore these sudden new ideas before they are lost – to absorb myself in this state of flow and to follow through the ideas with work and into something tangible is so satisfying.  If at this point, the inspiration is not worked out in some form while still fresh in the mind, it is then destined to perhaps sit in my sketch book, maybe forever.

As an artist I find that ideas for work are entering my mind constantly throughout daily life.  The scenery, people, conversations all infiltrate into my mind and trigger the imagination.  I think that it is impossible to switch off from being an artist at any point, whether at work or not.  The difficulty for me becomes which thoughts and ideas to pursue and which to put on the backburner for future times.  Sometimes an idea can arrive in my mind as fast as a bullet and I can start to work on that idea immediately in glass.  On other occasions I may know that I want to create work on a particular theme, but am not really sure where to start so I will collect images on that particular theme – for instance cityscapes.  I will analyse what it is that is attracting me to this subject and with the cityscapes it is the regularity of the shapes of the blocks combined with the irregularity of their placement.  It is the multiples of windows and the lights emanating from them at night time.  It is also the movement that occurs in amongst the static buildings.

From being a child I think I liked the idea that one day I would be an artist.  However when it came to choosing my subjects at school, I dropped art to take more ‘sensible’ subjects!  After leaving school I started going to pottery evening classes and soon had my own pottery.  Although I have done other work which would not be classed as artistic, I have always utilised aspects of those jobs to remain artistic. For instance, when I was working as a commercial van driver, I would have my camera with me all the time, so I could still make art while I was travelling.  When working in factories, I would think of ideas that I could make in art at later times.  When working in other settings I have noted different situations – perhaps to be later used in a story or poem.

Another of my artistic passions is photography.  Many of the pictures I take, are of subjects relating to the qualities of glass, such as reflection, refraction, distortion and transparency and one of my favourite subjects is ‘the city’. I have a desire to keep improving on what I create.  When I am creating a piece of work, often new ideas jump into my mind and then I can’t wait to have the opportunity to try these out.  The new ideas then lead to others. I am interested in all aspects of art and love visiting exhibitions, I usually come out totally inspired and with a determination to improve on my own work.

For me, the problem is dealing with the constant flow of ideas, rather than lack of them.  I feel that I do not have enough time in my life to work through all the ideas I would like to give time to.  Sometime when I revisit sketch books and scrapbooks of inspirational images that I have collected, I find old and unvisited ideas rushing back.  I find it very useful to collect images that I like, then group similar ones together then try to work out what it is about them I like.  This can be very enlightening when I realise that I have been collecting very similar images, but until putting them all together and studying them, I hadn’t realised why.

Selling and marketing my work is the most difficult aspect of being an artist for me.  Being quite a shy person I find selling directly to the public myself quite stressful, although I do love the opportunity to talk about my work.  I am more comfortable having my work in well chosen galleries with someone to sell on my behalf.  This also gives me more time for the more enjoyable creative part of being an artist.  If money was no object I would take more risks with experimentation.  Glass is an expensive medium to work in and to have unlimited access to materials would be very freeing.

It is virtually impossible for me to recreate exactly one piece from another.  Every piece I make is individual although the design may be similar to that of another.  When I make my pieces, I usually don’t have a set plan as to how it will look.  My pieces tend to grow organically as I create them, and with the cityscapes I like to think that they grow in a similar way to how many cities have grown – with one building growing alongside, but often with no relation to one another, other than that someone wanted it to be there. I enjoy commissions as they often take me on a journey that I would not have embarked upon myself and therefore make life more interesting.

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