Catherine Newton

Describe your artmaking practice.

I am a person who loves to make, try out new ideas, push boundaries and experiment. This has led me to some fascinating failures but also great results, for example using a 3D printer to print a glass object.

I believe art can make a difference and be thought-provoking. An area I have taken my current body of work is to highlight the important role of the mother, focusing on the relationship between mother and child, this is also close to my heart.

When, how and why did you get into it?

I became interested in glass when the Dale Chihuly exhibition Masterworks in Glass was at the National Gallery of Australia in 1999. I went there with my mother and one-year-old daughter and my mother said, “you could do that”. The work was spectacular and I was enthralled by the colours, transparency and fluidity of the glass. This inspired me to take some classes at the ANU Glass Workshop in Canberra after which I was heard to say on many occasions, “when I grow up I’m going to go to ANU School of Art and study glass”. The dream became a reality in 2013 when I began my visual arts degree majoring in glass.

What ideas do you explore through your art?

My current practice investigates the phenomenology of glass and how this medium can embody a sense of maternal love and intimacy. Scrutinising the materiality of glass, delving into its formal and metaphorical potential to convey the connection between mother and child through ideas of touch informed by the psychological and theories of ‘nature versus nurture’.

Who/what influences you as an artist?

My influences are many, for example work made by other artists, research papers written about mothering, my parents, mother-in-law and family are all significant in my work as well as being an important rung in the growing of children. I admire artists such as Mary Kelly, Louise Bourgeois and Denise Ferris and my supervisor from ANU School of Art, Nadège Desgenétez is also a key influence.

Of what are you proudest so far?

Apart from being proud of my four children and 1.75 grandchildren my proudest moment was graduating from the ANU. I received the EASS Peter and Lena Karmel Anniversary Award for best graduating student from the ANU School of Art in the presence of my mother, father, husband, children and family. I also felt the award was not only for me but my supervisor Nadège Desgenétez and the glass school and I felt proud that my achievements continue to enhance the worldwide reputation of the glass workshop and ANU SOA.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans are to continue making work and build my artistic practice.

I aim to achieve this by applying for residencies in the various glass centres around the world continuing with the theme of Mum’s hugs. I plan to make Mum’s hugs with mothers in the local community, capturing their breath in the hug of their child. This work is to highlight the importance of mothers and through community participation, raise awareness of mothering. It is also a way to expose people to the wonders of glass and the arts community.

What about the local scene would you change?

I would like to see the broader Canberra population exposed to and made aware of the locally produced art and the artists in our community that produce it. Creative practice can only survive in the community if there is support from the community. I have found the Canberra Arts scene to be supportive and caring with organisations working dedicatedly to support and promote artists in the Canberra community. On a more personal note the way established artists and the ANU SOA support emerging artists, their peers and students is to be truly admired.

What are your upcoming performances/exhibitions?

I am fortunate to have a number of upcoming exhibitions and events this year and can hardly believe this is happening to me. My work is currently on exhibition in Emerging Contemporaries at the Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre. The 2nd of June will see my work being exhibited as part of the CAPO Curatorial Internship Award at Belconnen Arts Centre. This show runs from Sat–Sun June 3–25.

I have been selected as a finalist in the Canberra Glassworks Hindmarsh Prize, which is a juried show promoting glass artists living and working in Canberra. This show runs from Sat–Sun June 10–18.

In July I am in the EASS Belconnen Arts Centre Exhibition Award Recipients show for an award I received at graduation last year. This show runs from Sat Jul 29–Sun Aug 20.

I am currently in America at the Pilchuck Glass School where I am participating in the summer program. This school was birthed by Dale Chihuly in the 1980s. Only yesterday, May 24, I found out I am being supported by artsACT to travel to France on the 1st of July to assist New Zealand artist Evelyn Dunstan with classes at Centre Européen de Recherches et de Formation aux Arts Verriers in Vannes le Châtel.

Contact info:

0439 429 550

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