In a bid to simply express the “magic of all living things,” English artist Louise Durham creates tall land sculptures made from reclaimed wood and vibrant stained glass. The artist is based in the coastal town of Shoreham-by-Sea, where she often places her finished pieces for people to enjoy.
Durham hand-cuts and embeds colored glass pieces into wooden slabs, arranged in rainbow formations. “Once I have the whole spectrum of glass laid out on my table I feel there's a healing vibration in that, it just makes me feel better somehow,” Durham tells My Modern Met. “I find it hard to imagine anyone who doesn’t wonder at the beauty of a rainbow in the sky, it’s something universal.” She merges the two materials together using traditional stained-glass techniques, including fusing and slumping.
Durham’s totems feature simple glass symbols—including hearts, stars, rain drops, and leaves—which add a nostalgic charm to her work, allowing the viewer to reminisce about childhood. “I suppose when we use these kind of shapes we are directly communicating something about what we all innately seem to understand, our connection to each other, our connection to nature, ourselves, and the universe and beyond.”
As well as using universal motifs, Durham explores the nature of humanity by embracing imperfections in her work. “I’m not your usual stained-glass artist,” she says, “It's an exact art form that is really for the perfectionist.” She adds, “I’m the opposite, I'm an imperfectionist, and I think that that is part of my work.”
For Durham, the relationship between light and glass is often more beautiful than the sculpture itself. When sunlight hits her perfectly imperfect glass shapes, the piece illuminates in vibrant hues and casts colorful shadows. “Maybe the glasswork is not as flawless as you would find in a church window, but when the light shines through, the wonky line is no longer an issue, the colors just come alive, and we can appreciate what is seen,” she says. “This is how I feel about us imperfect beings, at the end of the day we all have the same hurts and insecurities, it's just whether we are given the opportunities to let our light shine anyway.” The artist adds, “Glass gives me this moment of magical transformation.”
Check out some of Durham’s stained-glass and wood sculpture below and find more on her website.