Penel Bigg

“Working with glass is like working with a living thing, you introduce it into the flame and as it softens it becomes the consistency of honey and you can use heat and gravity and air from your lungs to guide and manipulate this amazing material into whatever shape you want. It becomes a dance. But a dance in which sometimes one partner leads, and sometimes the other.

“I usually begin working with a clear intention but sometimes the glass leads me in a different direction – this collaborative relationship makes flameworking endlessly fascinating and fun. One of the most important things to learn is how to surrender to and embrace that flow, to see where it leads.

“A lifetime of enjoying, appreciating, observing and sketching nature helps too. So much beauty exists and it is a gift to be able to spend a good deal of my time trying to convey the wonder and beauty of the natural world, with a bit of my own idiosyncratic quirkiness thrown in for good measure.”

Gallery/Other Contacts:

Penel’s glass studio is open twice a year as part of the Pittwater Artists Trail,

Penel Bigg

Glass – glowing colours, fluid forms, beautiful beads, molten magic!
Penel melts rods of glass in the flame of a large burner and then uses heat and gravity and a few special tools to create all manner of lovely things. From beads that will be made up into gorgeous jewellery, to intricately patterned perfume bottles, to fantastical creatures, every day in the studio is an adventure.
For over a decade Penel has been learning about glass, experimenting with a wide variety of techniques and slowly developing her own personal and very idiosyncratic style. Inspired by both the natural world and the world of her imagination she appreciates the serendipitous nature of molten glass, often letting the glass lead the dance rather than trying to impose her will on it.

Some of my highlights

I must admit I’ve never really adopted one, my parents were such shining examples of enjoying nature, working hard and being kind and honest that these sentiments underpin everything rather than a motto.

But a few years ago during a dark time battling the self-doubt that we all sometimes suffer from (ie, why do I bother making all these things?!) I read this inscription while browsing in a bookstore:

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

And since then whenever creative self-doubt strikes I remember these words, although I’m not sure this was quite what Thomas meant by it (googling this quote just now I find it is in fact from the Gospel of Thomas). It helps me to remember that in the end I make things because I can’t not, and doing so is in fact a process of self-discovery meaningful perhaps only to me, but that is more than enough reason to continue.

My own backyard is one of my favourite places because we back onto the reserve here at Elanora, the boardwalk at Warriewood wetlands, and Irrawong Falls are nearby and a beautiful place to be in. Soon after we moved here my then 85 year old father and I clambered up the waterfall and then followed the creek up to the Wesley Centre – had to because we couldn’t climb back down! It’s a magical place and we feel very lucky to live here.

Wandering along any of our beaches and headlands at low tide is one of my favourite things and can now also qualify as research and development, so that’s a bonus. It is amazing to be living between the marine environment and the bush and to see the development of my glass work as a natural consequence of my environment. None of which is a really a conscious process, walking along the beach, walking around the headlands or in the bush; all this beauty goes in and then if all goes well it gets transformed and comes back out in glass. It’s just lovely the way that happens all by itself.

My circumstances have recently changed allowing me to now spend more time teaching as well as continuing to explore the natural world, and my response to it, via increasingly sculptural works.

In the near future I hope to spend some time travelling overseas to North America and Japan, places where many flameworkers are really pushing the boundaries of what has been achieved to date, and studying with some of the many incredible artists in this field.

Meet with Penel Bigg at the NEXT EXHIBITION & ART TRAIL: 09 - 10 NOV 2019

A unique exhibition... Eight working studios... More than fifty Artists & Artisans... All on a meandering country drive...