White Camelia Vase by Katharine Coleman 2011
The vase should be looked at from several viewpoints as its design uses a variety of different surfaces and angles. Coleman’s work is focused on the properties of the glass and the action of specific wheel engraving marks, drawing the eye into the glass where refraction reveals further details.
Part of the Ulster Museum contemporary glass collection. Accession number: BELUM.V2013.58
Katharine Coleman trained in copper wheel glass engraving under Peter Dreiser, one of Britain's greatest glass engravers and the inspiration for her work ranges widely from natural history to the modern urban landscape.
The technique she uses is called cameo glass, a form of glass art produced by etching and carving through layers of different coloured glass to produce designs and imagery.
The technique is first seen in ancient Roman art of about 30BC, where it was an alternative to the luxury engraved cameo style gems, which used naturally layered semi-precious gemstones such as onyx and agate. The use of glass allowed consistent and predictable coloured layers, even for round objects. From the mid-19th century there was a revival of cameo glass and the French Art Nouveau practiced by Émile Gallé.
The decoration on this magnificent vase relates to Japanese green tea, which is made from the white flowering camellia bush.
By teaching workshops for the Guild of Glass Engravers and the Contemporary Glass Society, Katherine Coleman aims to keep this beautiful, highly skilled technique alive for generations to come.
In 2009 she received an MBE for services to glass engraving and her work is in many public and private collections across the world.