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I Am Standing


Mon 30 Jun 2008–Sat 19 Jul 2008, 10:00am

Where: City Art Rooms, Level 1, 28 Lorne St, Auckland Central

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Listed by: Sanderson

Contemporary artist Gill Gatfield has a penchant for working with unusual materials under extreme conditions. This was the case when she recently tested the limits of glass production in an ambitious sculptural work.

Gatfield’s sculpture, I Am Standing features three large-scale glass letters in the shape of an ‘I’, ‘A’ and ‘M’ - each at 2.2 metres high. It can be viewed at City Art Rooms in central Auckland.

The artwork demonstrates what can be accomplished when an artist with uncompromising vision and a fair amount of kiwi ingenuity, teams up with a skilled manufacturer.

To produce the work, Gatfield worked tirelessly over 6 months. Her concept and design did not just take the manufacturing process to the limit - it was thought to be impossible for a number of reasons. Her vision for the work tested all the steps in production especially how to cut and toughen the text sculpture.

Several initial design drawings were rejected by the glass processing plant because they were “outside specifications. Full stop”. The project was simply deemed too big, too hard, too risky, and too expensive. Of major concern was the high risk of the glass text exploding in the furnace, which would completely shut down production.

Gatfield refined her designs to rework difficult curves and angles so the manufacturing risks could be reduced. Major doubt still remained about the ability of the cut glass to withstand the heat of the toughening process. Even then questions remained over whether the text would be too tall to stand alone.

The design and testing process laboured on over the next 2-3 months, during which multiple sheets of glass were destroyed. Then some success followed with small scale tests by the glass manufacturer increasing confidence levels. According to Gatfield, who by now was a regular fixture in the factory, “the good news was – these test letters didn’t explode”.

In May of 2008, approval was given to go ahead with the project. But major risks remained for the artist. Production was on the understanding that glass quality could not be guaranteed due to the extreme heat and physical changes that occur to the glass in the toughening process.

Finally, on Friday 13 June, the furnace manager agreed to take a shot at a production run for one of the letters at full scale. This was to be the one attempt otherwise the project would be pulled. At 4pm that day, the first letter came out exquisitely. By late evening the other two letters had also passed through the furnace without event.

Staff at the glass factory call it a miracle. They have proudly sent news of their achievements to the furnace manufacturers in Italy, the home of glass making.

Contact Young Sun Han, for additional information or images. Phone (09) 308 9855.

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