In Matthew Hall’s studio, glass is not precious and static, it is alive and moving. After blowing a shape Hall grabs a pair of snips and cuts the glass like it is a piece of leather. Heating it momentarily Hall reminisces “I always wondered how the Italian’s made their glass so thin..?” Then gripping his blowpipe he spins the molten glass around his body and answers his own question. “…With flair and showmanship!” He was creating one of his Fazzoletto Bowls, a design originally made by Fulvio Bianconi for Venini & Co, Murano.
“Most of my work is the process.” Hall says. “The finished object is just one part.” Watching Hall work hot glass in his studio is one continuous flowing movement. To be a glassworker you need to be quick and nimble, responding to the material in the moment as it slowly cools and can no longer be manipulated.
There is none of the preciousness or fussiness usually associated with how we use glass at home. Glass is usually thought about in terms of form and optic quality, which Hall is a master of, but should also be thought about as a material frozen in time. Hall likens the process of glass-blowing to having rhythms and swelling energy like skateboarding or surfing, his forms follow a certain material logic. “My work is a mix of art, science and the dance of making …”
While Hall constructs a new hot-shop at his home he works from fellow glass artist Luke Jacomb’s studio in West Auckland. Hall and Jacomb have been friends since teenagers when they both got jobs working for Jacomb’s dad, John Croucher, at Gaffer Glass. After working at Gaffer Hall developed his practice while apprenticing to John Penman and Peter Viesnik; as well as training in the Czech Republic and Murano, Italy.
Hall’s work is inspired by the clean forms found in Italian modernism as well as a material sensibility inherent in working molten glass. But most of all, Hall has a particular sensitivity to the swelling translucent qualities of colour.