Glass festival promises to blow your mind

IFGMasters of glassmaking from across the globe will gather in Stourbridge this May for the sixth International Festival of Glass.

The IFG is the only UK-based festival celebrating the spectacle, drama and skill of glassmaking and in its short history has become internationally renowned for its vibrancy, and atmosphere of inspiration.

The Stourbridge Glass Quarter will host a four day public festival over the May Bank Holiday with venues including Ruskin Glass Centre, Broadfield House Glass Museum and the Red House Glass Cone holding exciting exhibitions and events. As with previous festivals, there will be a strong and distinguished international presence, a number of participatory activities, an increased emphasis on social inclusion and stimulating interest in glass amongst young people. We’ll be sharing further details of the full events programme in the run up to the Festival, so keep an eye out on the Discover Dudley calendar of events, or you can visit the dedicated ‘International Festival of Glass’ website here.

Some of the highlights of the festival include:

The Bandits of Glass, one of the UK’s foremost demo teams, showcasing traditional glass making skills in their own unique and exciting way.  Their performances are fun, energetic, and filled with humour promising audiences fun and frolics – as well as seeing some truly exceptional glass masterpieces crafted while they watch. The demonstrations will include making pieces using various techniques from Ancient, Roman, Renaissance, Italian Murano, 19th Century, Glass Nuvo and contemporary glass periods. All pieces will be auctioned for the British Glass Foundation.

Glassmaking demonstrations will also take place throughout the festival by Allister Malcolm, Tim Boswell, Elliott Walker, Lynn Baker, Jonathan Harris, Vic Bamforth and Darren Weed, to name but a few, plus engraving demonstrations by Nancy Sutcliffe and Steve Piper.

Ladies Day on the 25th May is a day dedicated to celebrating the role of women in glass manufacturing and creativity. Historic pictures and films often show male glassworkers in action and neglect their female colleagues, but women were a vital resource for the great manufacturers, completing many of the products they sold.  Following in the footsteps of such pioneers as Mrs Elizabeth Graydon-Stannus, women are at the cutting edge of contemporary glass creativity. Enjoy demonstrations, talks, crafts and displays of historical objects. that delve into this topic.

Exhibitions of exquisite glass artworks from international artists including a selection of Cutting Edge contemporary glass from Hungary; ‘Gravur on Tour: Modern European Glass Engraving’- a small touring exhibition of 31 pieces of engraved art glass by 31 EU artists; a selected exhibition of work by members of the Guild of Glass Engravers‘International Contemporary Engraved Glass’; And a host of rare designs and manuscripts that will be brought out of the archives with a display of rarely seen pattern books that show off the great skills of Joseph Keller, Stevens & Williams c1870-1889.

British Glass Biennale – The foremost exhibition of excellence in contemporary glass by artists, designers and craftspeople currently working in Britain. Taking place every two years it is the highlight of the Festival and with its international status, attracts top collectors and enthusiasts from around the world.

Historical re-enactment society The Guild of the Blessed St Edmund will be setting up a camp on site showing aspects of medieval life and knights in armour.

Singer, composer and visual artist, Andi Garbi, will compose a piece of original music drawing inspiration from the unique acoustics within the Red House Glass Cone. Andi specialises in creating site-specific art and music and his creative work at the Cone will be incorporated into his latest 4-year sound heritage project, The Unsung Antiquarium. His heritage exhibition ‘Shadows and Dust’, originally made for the Coffin Works Museum in Birmingham, will also be available for visitors to experience, with the unique combination of visual and auditory creative works.

A Family Fun Day on the 30th adds to the mix! A local tradition that happily coincides with the Festival. There will be animal displays by the Owl and Falconry Centre, A fire engine from West Mercia Fire Service, storytelling, donkey rides and more.

More information on the International Festival of Glass can be found here.