Residencies at The Studio

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Biography: Claire Bell

Portrait of Claire Bell for Extra Curricular by Jamie Bowering.
Claire Bell

Claire Bell is an artist from England who began her glass education in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2010. Bell has assisted glass artist Garry Nash and served as vice president of the New Zealand Society of Artists in Glass. It was in New Zealand that Bell first encountered the glass engraving style pioneered by John Hutton that has since shaped her own artistry. In the 1950s, Hutton invented his own method and tools to revolutionize glass engraving in architectural settings. Bell is now the only known person “actively pursuing learning John Hutton’s techniques,” she says.

Working with clear float glass and applying John Hutton’s techniques, Bell transforms her own drawings and photography into large-scale glass engravings. “My practice also explores the options surrounding presentation of engraving,” she says. “Framing it as a picture questions perception of the image and the object, with the glass as medium and artwork, instead of being the invisible conduit for the contents underneath.”

During her David Whitehouse Artist Residency for Research in June 2018, Bell investigated figurative imagery from both historic and contemporary settings and re-imagined it using mirrored float glass engravings. The Museum’s glass collection, along with prints and cartoons from the Rakow Research Library, granted Bell access to material far more substantial than she’s used to. “Currently, I focus on elevating images of everyday, mundane items, such as rubber gloves, or banana skins,” she says.