Harriet Schwarzrock

Exploring breath also a theme I return to. Which in itself is a beautiful and sympathetic fit with glass blowing.

Tell us a little about your background – what did you study and what path led you to what you are doing today?

I was fortunate to study at Sydney College of the Arts, in the 90’s. Majoring in glass whilst doing a visual arts degree. I was hooked by the amazing experience of glass blowing. I was able to spend extra time in the Hot Shop, fascinated by the fluidity of the material. During my studies we moved campuses from Balmain to Rozelle. This meant we had a new studio, in an amazing old complex of buildings at Callum Park. An incredible and encompassing experience. Where I learnt as much as I could in the studio, from my peers, teachers and visiting artists. At its core it is conceptual art school, yet there were these incredible design studios. I think this dichotomy of researching concept and being attentive to making continues to echo through my practice.

What are the key themes, concepts, and ideas that you engage with in your work and how do you express these visually and physically?

I am drawn to the fluid nature of blown glass. I often explore ideas of our inhabited body and of how we are connected. I return to using the heart form to explore interconnectivity. Fascinated by its fluid form, and recently by the subtle electricity. Exploring breath also a theme I return to. Which in itself is a beautiful and sympathetic fit with glass blowing. Most recently incorporating breath in my practice has led to a deeper practice of mindfulness. I have been practicing yoga for many years, and the amazing teachers I have, are interested in natural breathing rather than drawing attention to breathing in and out during movements. I am interested in the idea of being able to cultivate calmness even in a stressful or busy situation.

Who or what are some of your influences? What other artists and creatives in general do you admire?

My sketchbook is in the boxes being posted back… but the greatest insight and treasure of an artist to study during this trip, is Japanese artist Aiko Miyawaki.

Yoga has always been an influence for me, as has biology and being in nature. I am naturally drawn to contemporary blown glass forms; there are also such creative and generous makers in our field, who share and inspire. It has been a pleasure to meet some of my Japanese colleagues, and to see their work in collections and museums.

What is your workspace like?

My studio space is a jumble, a beautiful room within a warehouse in our backyard in Queanbeyan. A studio I share with my partner Matthew Curtis. I seem to be constantly moving objects around. I see that my sculptural work is about making multiple forms, which I then put together as if they are found objects. So my space is filled with objects, bubbles, seed like forms, in different tones and colours, made from glass. All of the objects seem to be on the verge of being recycled, or being a perfect fit in a piece. My lovely partner has built me incredible ‘plan’ like drawers, maximising horizontal spaces. Especially since working with neon, there are so many different elements. If there is space I seem to be able to fill it with forms, or components that I feel I might need for the next project.

What do you want the viewer to experience when they are experiencing your works?

I always hope that the viewer will somehow be moved by the work. Generally I am interested in cultivating a sense of calm and connection. I enjoy having elements within the work, where the viewer’s perspective, subtle movement or interaction with it, will effect what they see or experience.  I hope that people will stop a moment from their busy lives, and contemplate breath, or stillness, or connectivity.

  • Harriet Schwarzrock

    Glass Artist