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Depths & Shallows

Exhibition of new work based on the Selkie folktale:

Spike Deane, Alexandra Frasersmith, Emilie Patteson: The flotsom, flow and fables of the sea, responses to the ocean by three emerging Canberra glass artists

July 31- Aug 17 @ M16 Artspace

Depths & Shallows is an exhibition about the ocean – the ways in which it moves, its deep sea mysteries, its revelations cast onto the shore and the stories it inspires. The flotsam, flow and fables of the sea will appear in “Depths & Shallows” revealing how the muse of the ocean affects the current work of these three emerging glass artists. Spike Deane explores the melancholy Orkney legends of the supernatural Selkie in glass and textiles, Alexandra Frasersmith captures waves and ripples in luminescent crystal producing jewel-like sea treasures reminiscent of clams and kelp and Emilie Patteson draws in detail her beach combed collection before it is fused, burned and blown in glass.


Spike Deane is an emerging artist who uses glass and mixed media to explore transformational elements in folk and fairy-tale narratives. Deane received her Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hons) in Glass from Sydney College of the Arts in 2012 and currently lives in Canberra where she works between a home studio and the Canberra Glassworks. Deane's work also draws on earlier studies in Theatre Costume at East Sydney TAFE. Her work has been exhibited in the ACT, New South Wales and Victoria. Most recently at the Canberra Glassworks, in the Kirra Illuminated Light Awards in conjunction with Federation Square’s ‘Light in Winter’ celebration and in the City of Sydney’s festival ‘Art & About’.

My work draws on narratives found in folk and fairy tales to explore themes of individual transformation and metamorphosis. These tales evoke archetypes, myths, legends and fundamental truths from our lived experiences as social beings in an ever changing world. Every generation re-imagines the core stories of folk traditions and it is this process of reinvention and renewal that inspires me. My latest work revolves around tales of the Selkie, a folkloric shapeshifter. A seal in the sea, the Selkie sheds its skin to become human on the land. For me the Selkie's coat is the symbolic core of the myth. It signifies change. It is the evidence of both being and becoming. But the Selkie never sheds its skin entirely or forever. The past, present and future is held within it.


Alexandra Frasersmith is a recent 2012 Honors graduate of the ANU SOA glass program. Originally from Leeton NSW her work has a strong sense of the natural infused into it from glass bones to panels of frozen liquid textures. There are references to religion in the use of bones to create other objects, such as features of Gothic architecture. In 2013 she was awarded the Graduate in Residence, residency by the Canberra Glass works and the work that was completed during residency went on to be exhibited in RED (Rise, Exist, Demise) curated by Chloe Mandryk. Frasersmith has also had work exhibited and collected internationally.

My work is about textures, natural and man-made, watery and solid, dense and transparent. I seek to explore the ambiguous, visceral and beautiful qualities of the human experience, both natural and emotional. I draw inspiration from the structures of nature, science, medicine and religion. The process of lost wax cast glass is one of many meditative steps. My work is a mix of rich surface grains evocative of the body, nature and sometimes architecture.


Emilie Patteson is an emerging contemporary glass artist and illustrator. She grew up in Orange, NSW, and moved to Canberra in 2009 to study Glass at the Australian National University. After graduating with Honours in 2012, Patteson moved into a studio at Canberra Glassworks, which she shares with glass artist Brian Corr. Patteson has won awards from the Australian Decorative Fine Arts Society, Canberra Glassworks, and Craft ACT. She has exhibited throughout NSW, Canberra, Adelaide as part of the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize and was recently exhibited in Prague, Czech Republic, as a finalist in the Stanislav Libensky Award.

My artwork starts with the process of collection. I have been collecting for as long as I can remember. Throughout my childhood I had a large cardboard box that I filled with my treasures: feathers, pressed flowers, smooth pebbles, and skeleton leaves. My work is inspired by this collection and the sense of wonder experienced in childhood. The artworks that I create are an iteration of the collection of my adult years, and an attempt to see the same wonder I saw as a child. My work is also inspired by the aesthetic qualities of scientific collection, from the shapes of the scientific glass, the order and display of the collections, and the attention to detail. These qualities allow me to examine life cycles, particularly of plants. Through this study and observation I realise the fragility and preciousness of life. Death supports life. Decay leads to growth. Study of life cycles allow me to examine mortality, and realise there is beauty in the fleetingness of life. I try to convey these ideas through my artwork. By preserving plant matter inside glass, I ultimately also destroy it because of the temperatures needed to work with the glass. These effects allow me to work with the dualities of growth/decay and life/death to explore the cycles of life.

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