SEPTEMBER ARTIST SHOWCASE : AKIE HAGA


How long have you been working with the medium of glass? I first started working with glass twenty years ago after leaving Japan to explore the world, expand my vision and study fine art in England. I then moved to Australia to study glass in Canberra where I have since remained - growing a family and establishing a studio art practice. 

What draws you to the medium of glass? I am from Japan where quality of craftsmanship is greatly respected. Glass is a material that requires a high level of skill to give form to my creative thoughts and ideas. Glass is the medium where craftsmanship and artistic expression can be blended in infinite possible ways. It can be transformed from liquid to solid and can be worked while hot or cold. I am amazed to see how different techniques produce a huge array of forms, appearances, and textures, from small objects to large architectural pieces.

I am particularly drawn to working with hot glass when it is in its liquid stage. Initially, my focus was glass blowing. I enjoyed the dynamic process of creating art with hot glass and the need to react to the material in the moment. I like how glass changes its form in front of my eyes. I then made a shift to flameworking during my last year of study and discovered the many possibilities of this technique. It allows me to create detailed and delicate objects and emphasises the quality of liquidity that is a key characteristic of the medium. However, I also found that by repeating and multiplying components, I can achieve a sense of space, growth and strength in large installation works.

In Australia, there are still a small number of artists who focus on flameworking as their main technique for creating art. People such as Peter Minson and Mark Elliot are leading the way in demonstrating the many possibilities of this skill of glass art making. I am following in their footsteps.

Akie Haga, Filtering my emotion, storing my memory, 2014.

What is your studio practice like? I am very lucky to have my own studio at the back of my house, where I have kilns and a flameworking setup. I balance full time motherhood with my art practice. At present, my focus is on body adornment but I am consolidating my field of expression to make pure art pieces once again.

Akie Haga, Pod Necklace

All artists must change and grow their practice over time – can you tell us about a really significant or challenging moment in your career? Soon after graduating from the Canberra School of Art and pursuing my art practice, I found that I was going to be a mother. I felt privileged and joyful, but at the same time I was very aware that I had to put my practice to one side for an unknown period of time as we didn't have any family relatives to ask for help.  I managed to keep my practice going at a low level during this time. But then we moved to Japan for a couple of years where I did nothing but be a mother.

After we came back, I focused on production work to make some contribution to my family. Over time I realised that I could make artwork on a small scale through wearable pieces. In the future, I am going to expand my artistic expression in glass once again to incorporate sculpture.

Also, as a production maker I cannot avoid the difficulties of running a small business. I'm still very much a beginner and need to learn a lot. Often, business administration takes a much greater time than actual making. This is the biggest challenge at the moment.

What is another artists work at Gather that you love and why? Kirstie Rea. She was my teacher at the art school. I respect every part of her practice, not to mention my admiration of her skills and aesthetic. Her devotion to research is incredible. She is constantly challenging herself and always moving beyond her comfort zone.

Her work is like the storytelling of her surroundings and her love of nature.

Kirstie Rea, Blanket forms 
Image: Ashleigh St George