Glass in fairy stories: The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye

"She liked glass, in general, for its paradoxical nature, translucent as water, heavy as stone, invisible as air, solid as earth".  Says Dr Gillian Perholt in A.S. Byatt's book  of fairy tales, the Djinn in the Nightingale's eye.  It's good to hear someone with a real gift for words describing glass as an art medium with such love. In fact, glass crops up again (as you might expect) in the The Glass Coffin, another story in the book.  Djinn bottles, paperweights, snowdomes, domes with castles, glass coffins, are all scattered through the collection of stories.  Glass here is a medium for magic, a vehicle for the imagination, and a metaphor.  Again,  "oh glass, said Dr. Perholt to the two gentlemen, it is not possible, it is only a solid metaphor, it is a medium for seeing and a thing seen at the same time. It is what art is, said Dr. Perholt to the two men..". If only glass artists talked such sense - I get so sick of all the artists' statements that talk of 'subverting the medium'.  A.S. Byatt's clear prose makes me want to get back to what it was that I loved about glass - just these paradoxes.  I always loved swimming, and especially the magic of the underwater world, where everything is transformed into something special - especially when facilitated by goggles - that glimpse into something usually obscured.  I love glass teacups, where you get to see into and underneath something that is usually bounded by a solid skin or surface.  Louis Thompson's new work strikes me as both having depth and beauty for this reason.
Louis is an expert glass blower who combines his skill with a delightful sensitivity to concept.  His work can be seen in the upcoming show 'Remarkable Glass' at Contemporary Applied Arts on Percy Street in London.

Images:  Cesm-i Bulbul (The Eye of the Nightingale) glass bottle from the Pasabahce factory, glass, Beykoz, Turkey, early 1960's.  See Live Auctioneers website for details of this item (auction on 27th June 2010)
Sigmund Freud's Dream, Louise Thompson. Photo Ester Segarra

The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye, A. S Byatt, Vintage 1995 0 09 952131 8.  Available on Amazon


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