Thu, Dec 13, 2007 - Page 15 News List

Experiments with glass and color

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

Barrett's Trinity.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF MARTYN BARRETT

Nestled along Zhongshan North Road, Quercus, a new art gallery, has taken shape in recent weeks. Its collection ranges from colored glass vessels made by the owner, Martyn Barrett, to traditional objects like Chinese tea pots, painted ceramics and stone sculptures by local artists.

Some of the pieces are intended only for decoration and appreciation; others are of a more practical nature. Some are inexpensive and others more so. It's a unique place that one might visit to buy a Christmas gift for an artistically inclined friend, or to acquire a piece for a collection.

"The works are all original or limited edition, but at the same time, the cheapest object [a glass coaster] is just NT$450," said Barrett, who keeps the artwork affordable so that people will be able not just to appreciate it in the store, but also to have it in their lives.

Although his background is in wood and stone sculpture, glasswork has been one of Barrett's most successful sidelines since coming to Taiwan. His father-in-law deals in architectural glass and he had met a ceramicist with a kiln. With the elements available, he says, he started to experiment. "I never really asked anyone about it, ... and I have never seen anything like it, so it seems to be unique." The results are displayed in the new gallery.

Barrett also does commissioned glasswork panels that are used in interior design projects, and says the gallery serves as a showcase to attract more commissions. He is engaged on a number of larger public art projects in Taiwan and China.

Barrett first visited Taiwan in 1994, but didn't relocate here until a decade later. He attributes much of his success to luck. "Sometimes I think I'm not getting anywhere, but at other times, I think I have come to a country 10,000 miles [16,000km] away from home and don't know anybody, and in only three years, I guess I have done all right. But that's been a mixture of hard work, determination and luck. ... The more situations you put yourself in, the more likely it is something is going to happen."

Exhibition notes:

What: When Knife and Wood Meet (刀木交鋒木雕展)

When: Until Dec. 29

Where: Chung Yuan Christian University's (中原大學藝術中心) Mule Exhibition Hall, 200 Chungbei Rd, Chungli City, Taoyuan County (桃園縣中壢市中北路200 號沐樂展覽廳)

Tickets: Admission is free

Gallery notes: Quercus (旭橡國際設計) is located at 104, Zhongshan N Rd Sec 7, Taipei City (台北市中山北路七段104號), tel: (02) 2876-5992


Though his background is in applied art, Barrett, who began his career as a furniture restorer in the UK, has worked extensively as a sculptor and curator.

"One of the things I like is that people here still make things," Barrett said. "It's so easy to get material, as well. ... Whereas in England ... only very few people are making things anymore.

"This has served as an inspiration to some of my work. I like going around looking at how people make things, and you can see that very obviously, ... you walk down the road and factory doors are open and you can see people working, and I quite like that."

He now works with a wide variety of media, though he continues to work with wood - he has already become a regular member of the woodworking community in Sanyi (三義), the home of Taiwan wood sculpture, and has had a solo exhibition at the National Wood Sculpture Museum (三義木雕博物館) there.

Currently, Barrett is participating in When Knife and Wood Meet (刀木交鋒木雕展), an exhibition at the Chung Yuan Christian University (中原大學), with top Taiwanese sculptors, including Ju Ming (朱銘) and Ken Tsai (蔡根).

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