13/10/2010 by Sarah Ritchie
Any trip to a new country will usually involve – for Simon and me – the acquisition of local arts and crafts. Our time spent in the Middle East was no exception.
I am totally impressed at the level of artisanship that I saw in Israel, across many spheres: fashion, glass arts, fine art, jewellery. In Jordan I came across some incredible Jordanian hand-blown glass goblets and bottles. The colours were exquisite – the palest of frosty hues – and what struck me most was the fragility of the glass. It was paper-thin and so lightweight. Even though I was looking at ridiculously-inexpensive price tags I had little faith in the postal service, so decided not to risk freighting those delicate wonders to the other side of the world, and settled on purchasing glazed Jordanian pottery instead.
We visited a glass exhibition at the Israel Museum. I had no idea that man-made glass objects date back to around 3500 BC in Egypt and Mesopotamia (Syria/Turkey/Iran)! No surprise, then, that the Middle East – the cradle of the world (with an abundance of sand) – should have such incredible glass artists.
Here in New Zealand we are also graced with wonderful glass artisans, including my local favourite: Hoglund Art Glass, in Nelson.
The vibrancy and intensity of the glass colours interacting with light seem unparalleled, except – perhaps – for the finest of gems. No wonder we continue to pay a premium to gaze upon such an alluring artform, but the visual rewards are worth every cent.