Glass Beacon – Alex Design Exchange, Swansea
The brief was for a contemporary architectural art work to mark the re-establishment of the Swansea College of Art and celebrate the newly-refurbished ‘Alex Design Exchange’ as a centre for design, innovation and making; to reflect the core values of the University, collaboration and inclusivity, and celebrate the distinctiveness of a Wales-based course that has trained many of the world’s leading glass artists and practitioners.
Managed as a collaborative project between staff, students and alumni, the Beacon is comprised of twelve suspended glass ‘tapestries’ that explore the relationship between traditional and contemporary materials, techniques and application in an historic architectural context.
The glass is designed to serve as a metaphorical ‘crown’ for the building, a beacon representing both its history and resurrection; a visual statement of continuity and change incorporating makers marks from around the globe.
Materials and installation
Handmade glass, computer-aided water-jet cutting, laser and bonding technologies are used in various combinations.
All glass is bonded to backing sheets of toughened, laminated glass which are suspended from a tracking system on an internal steel frame.
Meeting the brief
The piece successfully combines and celebrates the old and new aspects of architectural glass practice as desired and is a collaborative project, provider of live project experience to current students and means of connection with the wider artistic community.
The piece was opened during a national conference and received makers marks from alumni in the US, Japan, Canada, Europe and UK. This process is designed to continue and has recently received a contribution from HRH Prince Edward.