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necklace, 1550 BCE - 395 CE
The University of Melbourne Art Collection. Classics and Archaeology Collection. Gift of Miss D Kilburn
bottle, 3rd century CE
The University of Melbourne Art Collection. Gift of David and Marion Adams, 2009
This exhibition celebrates the luminous medium of glass. Displaying significant artefacts from the Egyptian and Roman periods alongside the work of contemporary makers, Liquid Form examines the development of faience and glass manufacture in the ancient world and demonstrates how these methods have been reinvigorated and extended in the modern era.
Originally thought of as a substitute for stone by the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians and traded throughout the ancient world, by Roman times the use of glass was becoming increasingly more common. Today, the medium has a ubiquitous and largely utilitarian presence in everyday life, but is still valued by makers and collectors as a challenging medium through which to push craft techniques and the boundaries of design.
Some of the glass making methods developed in the ancient world include core and rod forming (vessels and small items with organic cores around which glass was wound or formed), casting and moulding (items produced through the use of moulds, both open face and closed), cane or mosaic glass (coloured circular glass rods cut into small pieces and then fused to form vessels and objects), sagging (reheated glass blanks sagging over or into moulds or forms), cold working (shaping and decorating after casting) and mould and free blowing. Many of these techniques continue to be used by artists today, and are represented in the exhibition in work by some of Australia’s most influential makers.
Highlighting the treasures in the University of Melbourne’s Classics & Archaeology Collection, Liquid Form will be the first major exhibition of glass at the Ian Potter Museum of Art. The exhibition also showcases significant works from major collections around Australia, including the Australian Institute of Archaeology, Melbourne; the Dodgson Collection of Egyptian Antiquities at Queens College, the University of Melbourne; the John Elliot Classics Museum, the University of Tasmania; the RD Milns Antiquities Museum, the University of Queensland and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.