Simon Lewis Wards is a sculptor based in Auckland, New Zealand. He works predominantly in ceramics and cast glass and is best known for his playful interpretations of iconic New Zealand brands. Wards has developed a body of work that seeks to inspire a sense of childlike excitement, oscillating between nostalgia and pop-culture, and often playing with scale to enhance the viewing experience. In recent years Wards has focused his development on his sculptural glass practice. His current series of work challenges expectations of glass playing with utilitarian forms like bubble wrap which he pushes to its sculptural limits. More than an exploration of Trompe l’oeil this latest series subvert associations of protection in a material that can be both strong and fragile at the same time.
Wards’ first foray into glass was at 15, when he left high school and started working with a friend’s dad, John Croucher, who was an early pioneer of the glass art movement in NZ. His creative background was mainly informed by graffiti, with Wards and his crew becoming respected figures in the street art movement of the mid 90s.
Years later as a unfulfilled tradesman, but having always enjoyed working with his hands, his artistic vision took over and he revisited the world of glass.
The transition to sculpting and mould making felt like second nature. The idea for Wards’ initial sculpture came from the glass itself, when he noticed how much the raw material looked like a glistening confectionary. He hand-crafted a set of twelve jet planes in glass along with a ceramic paper bag and has expanded on this theme to include a range of iconic kiwi confections.
During his four years spent in Paris, Wards continued to develop his skill set to include stained glass techniques. After a period of relative isolation and introspection in the city, Wards returned to New Zealand with a clear vision for his practice. He set up a studio in a repurposed vineyard high in the Waitakere ranges, where he now works on a number of projects, including larger scale public sculptures, and his glass art practice.