The Contemporary Glass Society (CGS) was established in 1997 to represent the interests of national and international glassmakers. Its team is passionate about glass and the artists working with this amazing medium. Today it has almost 1,000 members and continues to grow.
CGS is a charitable organisation funded entirely through members’ subscriptions and by donations.
The Contemporary Glass Society
at The White House
The Contemporary Glass Society is a charity, registered in the UK. We are
funded entirely through our members and from donations.
I have been an arts administrator for many years, learning most of my skills running an exciting arts venue in Norwich.
Susan Purser Hope
For most of her career, Susan Purser Hope ran her Midlands based commercial interior design consultancy specialising.
Print Magazine Editor
I have worked with glass for 30 years, having trained at Staffordshire University and Brierley Hill, and assisted David Traub and Neil Wilkin.
Digital Magazine Editor
I have always loved both art and words. My joint degree in Art and English reflects my inability to choose.
Sarah Brown graduated in 2010 with a First in Applied Arts. Having worked full time to raise funds to start her own studio.
Fiona became interested in glass having attended a few short courses at West Dean College and the Liquid Glass Centre.
The CGS grew out of the vision of studio glass pioneer, Peter Layton. For more than 25 years, it has championed glass artists, designers and makers. We are a leading voice for all things glass-related and support artists and the industry through a variety of initiatives.
- 25th Anniversary Programme
- Joins UN International Year of Glass Programme
- 12 Actual exhibitions across the UK
- Commission new work from Chris Day, for the new Stourbridge Glass Museum
- Regular online Wednesday Talks with artists
- 6 online exhibitions
- Holiday Heaven exhibition at International Festival of Glass
- Membership reaches 1000
- Monthly online exhibitions
- Partnership with The Design Trust to deliver Business Development courses.
- Regular online Wednesday Talks with artists
- Online International Days reaching across the world.
- Life Forms finally showing at Pyramid Gallery York as lock down eases.
- Launch new Web Site.
- Business Booster course with The Design Trust.
- COVID-19 lockdown cancels events.
- ‘Life Forms’ exhibition at Pyramid Gallery, York, moves online.
- CGS starts live talks series online.
- Glorious Glass moves to Aylesbury at Bucks County Museum.
- ‘Inspired’ exhibition at the Gallery at London Glass Blowing.
- ‘Celestial Bodies’ exhibition at International Festival of Glass.
- Glorious Glass at World of Glass St Helens.
- 2nd Amanda Moriarty Prize.
- Online Business Booster course with The Design Trust.
- ‘Glorious Glass’ programme begins. First event in Taunton: exhibition, forum day and glass fair.
- Northern Hub visits Cumbria Crystal.
- East Hub organises exhibition in Norfolk.
- Online shows include ‘Little and Large, Glass Inspired by Great Artists’.
- Launch of annual prize in memory of Amanda Moriarty.
- Glorious Glass continues with exhibition and events at Maidstone Museum.
- Glorious Glass show in Glasgow, in partnership with Scottish Glass Society.
- Winter Exhibition at Pyramid Gallery, York.
- Exhibition at Pyramid Gallery York, ‘Water & Music’.
- Open selected exhibition at Etienne Gallery, Holland.
- CGS takes part in the International Festival of Glass with ‘Celebrations’ exhibition, featuring 130 members.
- A two-day conference in Bristol, ‘Connections’.
- Numerous online exhibitions.
- CGS membership reached 900.
- An exhibition in partnership with The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh.
- Helped North Lands Creative Glass celebrate 20 years with its conference in Edinburgh.
- Our first European exhibition in Holland with 15 CGS members’ work.
- Collaboration with London Glass Blowing on ‘Black to White and Back Again’, with 52 CGS members taking part.
- A second showcase of members’ work displayed at the National Glass Centre in a year-long exhibition of rolling artists.
- A CGS members’ exhibition at Pyramid Gallery, York.
- A display of 168 glass postcards on the theme ‘Wish You Were Here’ at the International Festival of Glass.
- Regional Hubs hold events across the country.
- Membership exceeded 700.
- Launched the first exhibition fundraising campaign.
- Established Regional Hubs in the East and South East.
- CGS became a charity.
- Launched 'Glass Skills', a year-long celebration of the imagination and talent of today’s glassmakers and their role in keeping ancient skills alive, aimed at putting contemporary glass on the map.
- Organised the successful 'Glass Skills' conference at the National Glass Centre.
- Launch of the CGS website with more opportunities for members to promote their work and raise their profiles.
- Ran 'Glass Games’, an Olympic-inspired nationwide program of events backed by Lottery funding.
- The first year of independence from Arts Council England.
The Contemporary Glass Society at 25
By Susan Purser Hope – current Chair
Wow- what an achievement! The Contemporary Glass Society celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2022. In addition, the UN has also designated this as the International Year of Glass. Since its inception, CGS has remained committed to promoting contemporary glass. We are passionate about supporting and involving makers, collectors and enthusiasts in advancing and preserving contemporary glass for future generations.
The studio glass movement in the UK began in the 1960s when Sam Herman – a young American glass maker - visited a number of English and Scottish art colleges. He showed students that they could build their own furnaces and studios and did not have to rely on industry to make their work. By the early 70s a number of small almost exclusively blowing studios, including London Glass Blowing, had been set up. From these studios, 18 glass makers created a new support organisation - British Artists in Glass - affectionately known as BAG. This organisation was exclusively for professional artists and students, organising conferences and exhibitions for makers. By the early 1990s, having been run solely by volunteers, BAG ran out of steam and was disbanded.
Emergence of CGS
In 1997, a group of glassmakers met in a London pub and a new organisation was conceived – the Contemporary Glass Society. Those founding members included Colin Reid and Peter Layton. Colin reflects:
“Peter Layton took the initiative to start a new society. About sixty of us gathered at The Leathermarket, London for a lively discussion to consider future steps. Following subsequent meetings between Peter Layton, Andrew Brewerton, Mark Angus, Liz Swinburne, Pete Howard and myself, we proposed a series of recommendations that informed the formation of the Contemporary Glass Society in 1997”.
Like BAG, for some years CGS was run entirely by volunteers; but it became apparent that for it to succeed, proper staffing was needed. Around the start of the new century, the Arts Council of England had plenty of public funding, and in 2002 CGS became a regular funded organisation. This was a milestone for the organisation. Sue Woolhouse remembers this well:
“After several years we secured seed funding from the Arts Council to support the development of CGS and we were able to advertise for its first paid role. Shital [Chair] was absolutely delighted when Pam [Reekie] applied. She not only had the administrative skills required but also a depth of knowledge and a deep sense of the glass world. Since then, CGS has gone from strength to strength and its membership continues to grow.”
Following Arts Council of England’s reorganisation, this funding ceased in 2012 and in August 2013, CGS became a charity. It is now a self-sustaining organisation funded by membership fees and money raising activities.
Conferences remain at the heart of CGS, with intriguing venues and international speakers. Ranging from the Art Deco glory (De La Warr Pavilion) to Eden Project (Cornwall), our conferences offer a platform for home and international glass artists and enthusiasts to build friendships and foster creative and supportive network. Richard Jackson describes his contribution:
“Sally Fawkes and myself organised ‘Perceptions’ the St Ives conference in 2000. It was another major achievement ending on a high with a reception on the rooftop at Tate St Ives after a private tour of the galleries. It wasn’t without its stresses though, two of our key speakers Caroline Broadhead and Bernard Dejonghe pulled out at the last minute due to health issues. However the upside of this was that they agreed to speak at the next conference at Tate Liverpool in 2001 - another great event - which was organised by Shital Pattani.”
In order for contemporary glass to develop, over the years CGS has encouraged education on all levels, nurtured good relationships with Universities and glass establishments and encouraged future generations of glass artists through our Graduate Prize and New Graduate Review.
We have established and sustained strong links nationwide with galleries, museums and galleries in addition to our online platform, creating opportunities for CGS members to showcase and sell their work. Memorable achievements include our first selected exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, “Inspired” at London Glass Blowing, “Remarkable Glass” at the Contemporary Applied Arts and “Reflexivity” in Cambridge.
Max Jacquard explains,
“Glass artists and craftspeople need to be tough to survive in the modern world. Yet the experiences I learnt from being involved with BAG and CGS have taught me that we survive better as a community. By sharing and being a part of a network, we enrich not only our own practices but the art-form as a whole. The Studio Glass movement is alive and well, not because of the commercial successes of individuals, but because Glass enthusiasts want to reach out and share their passion for Glass with one another and the wider public. That remains as true today as it did Twenty-Five years ago.”
The 2012 London Olympics was a wonderful opportunity for CGS to promote contemporary glass, as Victoria Scholes remembers:
“With the creation of Glass Games and Glass Skills, a two-year extravaganza of exhibitions and events, we engaged more than seventy glass artists, organisations and over 200 thousand participants.”
To celebrate, a glass baton was commissioned which toured the country, with 24 artists exhibiting in London and a Medallion Exhibition of 82 artists showcasing at the International Glass Festival in Stourbridge. This exhibition is now an established part of the Festival.
The year of change: 2020
The pandemic proved challenging, but the essence of CGS as a community and creative spirit remained strong. We engaged through twice weekly newsletters and our weekly talks with global artists, gallery owners, and collectors created a supportive network. During this time, we produced advisory documents to help members navigate Brexit and the pandemic. We took the opportunity to enhance our interactive website, promoting members via social media and launching online selling exhibitions. Our new, improved website with ongoing articles keeps the site fresh and inviting.
The pandemic made apparent the sense of community and collaboration within the glass world. Throughout its history, the Contemporary Glass Society has pursued a passionate belief in connecting with and supporting our members. We are growing, gaining more influence and shouting to all and sundry about the benefits of enjoying and working in our glorious material of glass!
Read the reminiscences of early members of the Contemporary Glass Society
“1976 was an important year. I started my studio in Rotherhithe and the Crafts Council organised the hugely successful 'Working with Hot Glass' Symposium at the Royal College of Art. This symposium had a galvanising effect on the formation of British Artists in Glass (BAG) as a professional association of studio glassmakers. Under the guidance of John Cook, Head of Glass at Leicester and the driving force behind the symposium, BAG started with thirteen founding members.
I later became the first Chair of Contemporary Glass Society (CGS) with a small committee and support of Dr David Watts as Treasurer and Editor. Our first conference, held at the University of Wolverhampton, was a huge success, and the second CGS conference was held at the new National Glass Centre where the Chair was passed to Shital Pattani”.Colin Reid
“I went to my first British Artists in Glass (BAG) conference in Carmarthen in the early 1980s as a recent graduate and was in awe of the key speaker, Howard Ben Tre with his colossal glass castings. At the Annual General Meeting I was taken aback to be volunteered for the committee by Sam Herman. It proved to be an excellent move as I got to know many other artists and was thrown in at the deep end organising a major BAG exhibition at the Commonwealth Institute - a great learning experience.”Angela Jarman
“I remember going to the very first CGS meeting at Peter Layton's old studio.
I volunteered to be on the steering committee (I must have been fired up!) and the title, aims and direction for the new society were voted upon. The Contemporary Glass Society was born.”Sue Woolhouse MA RCA
“Shital Pattani was elected Chair to take the embryonic organisation of CGS forward. She was the perfect candidate for this new role. She worked diligently and despite everyone working on a voluntary basis, it started to gain momentum.”David Reekie
“One of my earliest memories of Contemporary Glass Society (CGS) was a meeting at Staffordshire University in 2002, when my partner, Pam Reekie, took up the role of Administrator. We met with the committee comprising of Shital Pattani, Candice Elena Evans, Fiaz Elson and the much-missed Amanda Moriarty. This was the first time that a paid Administrator’s role had been created to pull the British contemporary glass community together with its own organisation. As history will tell, it intended to create a larger and stronger society comprising of glass artists, educators, and collectors with the aspiration to create opportunities for all members.”Chris Bird Jones
“I’m glad to have played a part in the birth of CGS, within the working party steering committee and for those early CGS conferences at Wolverhampton, Sunderland and Stoke. The camaraderie and ‘going the extra mile’ has always been at the heart of CGS and enabled it to develop and flourish. There are too many honourable individuals to mention by name and I would be sure to miss someone out if I started that long list. However maybe a confession is needed, so here goes - I was the bolshie one, repeatedly chanting, to most people’s annoyance, “We need a full time administrator!!”
Without Pam, our determined and continuing Administrator, I am certain we would not be here today. Good memories all round. Congratulations CGS at 25! “Victoria Scholes
“When I took over as Chair of CGS in 2008, it was hitting its stride with top notch national exhibitions, workshops and conferences and circa 500 members. We gained a reputation as a national hub of creativity and innovation, shaping the quality and presentation of glass in the UK. Our success grew as we developed the Magazine, introduced an online gallery, increased the number of exhibitions, introduced the New Designers Prize for Glass, created more workshops, a mentoring scheme and networking Petchakuchas.
However, as the Government’s austerity programme hit, we faced challenges, including losing our status as a regularly funded organisation. For a moment, our future seemed to hang on a thread. However, with the overwhelming support of our members, we designed and delivered our most ambitious programme. “Katharine Coleman
“In 1997 I managed to get to Wolverhampton for that very first CGS meeting, desperate as I and many others were to join an association where one could meet people with skills and experience in contemporary glass. In the packed Wolverhampton lecture hall, my heart therefore sank when discussions began to rage about how the society should function and who could be a member. “We don’t want any aspiring glass artists (sniff) or students in this serious society of equals!” declared a very distinguished lady artist. How glad I am she was shouted down.
Ever since that meeting I have learned so much from my fellow members, enjoyed doing my bit to help when possible (apologies for ever to Mark Angus for dropping both carousels of his slides!) and having so much fun and inspiration along the way.
Hooray and a big thank you to everyone who made this possible.”Max Jacquard
“This spirit of sharing was central to the British Artists in Glass (BAG) philosophy and I experienced that same generosity at subsequent conferences. It has been a significant influence in forming my identity as a “Glass Artist”. When BAG changed its name to Contemporary Glass Society (CGS) in 1997, it wanted to reflect the changing times and represent the fluid identities of artists, craftspeople, designers, and collectors of glass.”Richard Jackson
“Having joined the committee at the ‘Glass Works’ 1998 CGS conference in Sunderland, a little later I suddenly found myself Chairman. There was a lot to do; leisure time quickly became CGS time for a number of years!
Getting ready for the emerging digital age and developing an enduring identity became a high priority. Key achievements I am proud of are: co-ordinating the building of the first CGS website - accessible then only by dial up internet and the design of the CGS logo, which is still in use and looking just as fresh today, enabling us to print society stationary.”
Pam Reekie (Membership/Fundraising Administrator)
I have been an arts administrator for many years, learning most of my skills from running Norwich Arts Centre, an exciting arts venue in Norwich. There I learnt that most things are possible.
I enjoy working for CGS and have overseen its growth into the vibrant Society it is today.
I am fortunate to travel extensively with my husband, glass sculptor David Reekie, and have made friends with glass artists worldwide.
Susan Purser Hope Chair
For most of my career I had a Midlands-based commercial interior design consultancy specialising in designing and fitting out large hotels, offices, hospitals etc.
In 2005, I decided to change direction and returned to Wolverhampton University to study glass making, following which I established my fused glass studio, creating architectural work but mainly developing community projects. I used glass to build self-belief and a sense of wellbeing within hard-to-reach communities and groups.
I relocated to North Norfolk with my husband to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition of living by the sea. I now work from my new studio at Groveland in Roughton and continue with community projects in Norfolk, the Midlands and London. I specialised in working with young children and those living with dementia.
I have been a Trustee of CGS for some years because I believe passionately in raising the profile of contemporary glass and promoting those who create it. I became Chair because I was keen to develop my ideas of widening the opportunities available for all members. I am also the Project Manager, developing selected, and open, exhibitions, plus other events, for the membership.
Nicky Schellander (Website and Online Gallery Manager)
A Trustee with the CGS since 2007, I was brought on board to develop the CGS website, curate the online gallery exhibitions and develop social media strategies. I have broadened the reach of CGS overseas by linking with international glass artists and designers.
I wished to join a community of people who were passionate about glass but also wanted a lively platform for glass artists.
I am a glass designer and maker in my own right and Director of my own hand-made glass lighting brand.
Before launching my business, I worked as Head of Design and Senior Designer for Edinburgh Crystal, Dartington Crystal and other studios.
I am midway through a PhD in glass design innovation, feeding my fascination with the beauty and power of molten glass and its fluidity, as well as creating opportunities that keep old glass skills alive, through working with other skilled craftsmen and studios.
Kirsteen Aubrey (Print Magazine Editor)
I have worked with glass for 30 years, having trained at Staffordshire University and Brierley Hill, and assisted David Traub and Neil Wilkin. While my work resonates with traditional glass blowing, my experiences with kiln glass and digital processes have produced work in water jet cutting and sub laser etching.
I enjoy working collaboratively, an element that has intrigued me since my early glass days assisting Neil Wilkin in Frome. Since then, I have engaged in numerous collaborations across disciplines to highlight the innovative agency of glass. These include collaboration between glass and crochet as part of ‘Pairings’, featured at Contemporary Applied Arts, 2012. I later collaborated with textile artist Alice Kettle, using lampwork to create an installation for VAS:T at the Royal Scottish Academy with further iterations installed at Winchester and Cardiff.
My glass practice continues alongside the collaborations, and recently featured in the National Glass Centre retrospective, celebrating its 21st anniversary with 60 glass makers.
Currently, my glass explores ‘Ways of Seeing’, creating handblown glass optic lenses that challenge perspective and ways of encountering the world. The results were showcased in Radical Responses as part of IASDR (International Association of Societies of Design Research) (2019) and feature in Virtual Milan Design Festival 2020.
Linda Banks (Online Magazine Editor)
I have always loved both art and words. My joint degree in Art and English reflects my inability to choose between these disciplines. I have been lucky to be able to pursue my stained glass business alongside a career as a journalist and editor spanning 30 years.
I have lived through the evolution of print publications into online channels and relish the flexibility and opportunities that digital brings.
As a practising glass artist, I understand the challenges that we all face, and as a professional content creator I hope to share useful, informative and inspiring articles with you through Glass Network digital.
Mike Barnes (Treasurer)
I have been a collector for over 20 years.
I started out collecting modern studio glass from around the world, but in recent years I have focused on British makers living both in the UK and abroad. I have built up a collection of over 100 pieces and I am now only limited by space at home!
I am passionate about promoting and supporting the British glass scene and I am delighted to be on the CGS Board.
I bring some business and marketing expertise, having been Chief Executive of an NHS Trust (I am a neurologist by background) and chair of various charities.
I am currently Clinical Director and Marketing Director of the Christchurch Group, which runs brain injury rehabilitation centres around England.
Sarah Brown (Board Member)
I graduated with a First in Applied Arts in 2010.
I worked full time to raise funds to start my own studio and bought a kiln with a bonus from work in 2012, before launching my business in 2013.
I like to work on a larger scale for public art commissions and architectural projects.
In 2014 I took part in the Hothouse programme with the Crafts Council and my practice has grown from there.
I love using illustration in my glass work and experimenting with ways to create depth within a flat piece.
I joined the CGS Board in 2015 to promote glass making to students and assist new makers to continue with glass as a career. With the numbers of glass courses declining across the UK, it is important to try to find ways of keeping the craft alive in the coming years.
Fiona Fawcett (Board Member)
I attended a few short courses at West Dean College and the Liquid Glass Centre (now the Glass Hub) and soon became hooked on the subject.
Wanting to develop my knowledge and skills further, I studied Glass and Ceramics at the University of Sunderland, achieving a First Class Honours in 2015.
At Sunderland I worked with the National Glass Centre’s learning and engagement team, setting up and invigilating exhibitions, and assisting glass artists in participatory arts projects for local community groups.
During this period, I was also Chair of the CGS Eastern Hub committee.
Following university, I worked for a commercial architectural glass company based in Lancashire before returning to Suffolk and setting up my home studio.
I specialise in kiln-formed glass and cold working.
I have developed a passion for contemporary glass and promoting the importance of maintaining handcrafted skills and techniques.
I also have 22 years of leadership and management experience from my service in the Royal Navy, where I specialised in training management, education and human resource policies.
Colin Reid (Board Member)
I am proud to be a founder member of CGS and so pleased and amazed to see what a wonderful supportive professional organisation it has become. This is down to the membership and the brilliant, proactive committee, steered by Sue and Pam.
I decided to re-join the committee to play a more active role, having served on it in the early days. Since I re-joined, we have only met online because of COIVD-19, but that hasn’t slowed things down – indeed, I’m so pleased that CGS is there in good times and bad.
I work in kilncast glass from a studio in Stroud, Gloucestershire.
Amy Whittingham (Board Member)
I am inspired by liminal space, geometric forms and textural surfaces, empowering process and maker’s marks. I cast these in coloured glass to highlight the detail and depth of overlooked objects. See my work here.
I am the author of Glass Casting, published by Crowood Press Ltd in 2019. This book includes step-by-step guides for glass casting.