Abigail Reynolds: Estover

30 August - 1 September 2019

I have used sheet glass in my work for years, often to foreground the act of looking. We look so often at the land through the glass lens of a camera and see the resulting photograph on a glass screen. ‘Estover’ offers a moment to reflect upon both how this alters our perceptions of the land and the materiality of glass itself, which we so often handle and look though, but itself remains largely unexamined. Abigail Reynolds

‘Estover’ is a weekend of making and discussion, which centres on an experimental glass melt, using ash from locally gathered kelp ash mixed with beach sand. The glass made in the melt will be blown and rolled into sheets of glass that have a very specific address. Using pre-Roman glass making techniques, a glass will be made that is a synthesis of place.

Reynolds initiated this project having read archaeological surveys of the Helford River, as research for the performance she created on the Autumn Equinox at Tremayne for the Groundwork programme. She found that kelp pits were located along the Helford in Calamansac woods, to produce kelp ash for the glass industry in Bristol. Kelp ash for glass was first produced in the Scilly Isles. This industry ran from the 1680s until at least the 1880s when the ash was chemically superseded. She hopes to reproduce medieval methods of glass making which simply used plant ash to bring down the melting point of sand to liquify it into glass.

This event is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.


Please find detailed schedule and links to contributors webpages below. Please note this working schedule may be subject to slight alterations over the course of the three-day programme.

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Friday 30 August schedule

10.30-12.30 Abigail will lead a group from the studio to Bosahan cove to gather sand fine enough for glass-making.

12.30-14:00 Picnic lunch (please bring your own pack food)

14.30 We will burn previously dried kelp to ash, then grind it up with the sand to prepare the glass batch for melting. The hand-built furnace will be finished and tested with Ian Hankey and Amy Whittingham.

17.30 How to build a furnace and why: Crizzling at the V&A
A presentation in the studio by Ian Hankey about his work with the V&A to understand ancient techniques for making glass and why ancient glass ‘crizzles’.

22.00 The glass furnace will be lit for overnight melting the batch

Saturday 31 August schedule

From 10.00
Glass melt, blowing and rolling the glass, with Ian Hankey and Amy Whittingham. Continues at times through the day.

12.30-13.30 Picnic lunch (please bring your own packed food)

14.30 Estover: Short presentations and discussions in the studio between artists who work directly with materials from the land. Including Lotte Scott, Rosanna Martin and Sam Nightingale.

17.30 Glass, a surface and the ground: A presentation and discussion in the studio by Esther Leslie from Birkbeck in conversation with Abigail Reynolds

Sunday 1 September

10.00 The cooling kiln will be opened and the muffs and sheets of kelp glass brought out to handle.
10.30 Photographic representations of West Cornwall
A discussion in the studio considering glass as lens on the land in popular photography, led by documentary filmmaker Clare Tavernor and the head of photography at Falmouth University Mandy Lee Jandrell in conversation with Abigail Reynolds.

I’m aware of how extractive industries in Cornwall have historically marked the land but also shaped attitudes to the land. My work offers a moment to consider ourselves in relation to these legacies. There were kelp pits along the Helford River used to produce ash for the glass industry. I am fascinated to think that if I could learn to make glass in this way I could look through this glass at the land which produced it, knowing it is a synthesis of the materials that surround me. Abigail Reynolds

Other contributors:

Sam Nightingale
Lotte Scott
Roseanna Martin
Esther Leslie
Mandy Lee Jandrell
Amy Whittingham
Clare Tavernor

Open Tuesday - Sunday 10:30am - 5pm. Closed Mondays but open for Bank Holidays