‘Born from fire’ lights up Suva this weekend

Born from Fire

In a glass room at Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel, a frangipani tree wrought from glinting metal and glowing glass is growing from the ceiling this weekend.

In another corner of this temporary exhibition space, a school of iridescent copper mahimahi swirls around blue glass waves and delicate clear glass fish, while birds constructed of bronze glass bodies and metal wings circle overheard.

These are two of the most spectacular pieces at the ‘Born from Fire: Return to the Flames’ exhibition, which brings together the work of glass artist Alice Hill, and metal sculptor, Shane Bower.

The installation of fish and birds is Bower’s favourite. “With the light, the colours are amazing, blue, gold and yellow” he says.

Alice Hill, who works with her team from a studio in Korotogo, says the theme is a reflection of re-emerging after Covid.

“It is really about us getting back to the workshop after Covid,  getting inspired, but a large part of it is also about times when we were having a break from work due to everyone’s situation, we sort of went back to our roots, we went back to our families, we sort of brought our families home… and we really just took time to understand and see and appreciate what we had and what’s here.”

Hill says she personally took inspiration in visiting the market: “Just the simple act of going into the market, so seeing clusters of dalo, seeing moca all in a knotted heap in the ground, ota and the ladies cross-legged, smiling at you, holding the ota, so a lot of my individual work is inspired by that. You may not look at it and say, ‘Oh that’s dalo, that’s ota’, but that’s where it’s derived from, that’s where it comes from.

“And with Shane, he does a lot of pieces from the ocean…so going out fishing and having the birds hunting and the small fry bubbling underneath, just trying to capture those things which quite often we take for granted now, but having that little break over a couple of years where we could all focus on family and the important things, being in the environment, we’re highlighting that in this exhibition.”

Their inspiration is clear in the delicate fronds of ota emerging from wooden blocks on display at the exhibition, boards inset with round glass beads and domes like the plastic saucers of produce on display at market stalls, and Bower’s sea creatures, including a wonderful turtle with bronzed limbs and a mottled, matt glass shell.

Bower and Hill have also brought elements of their studios to the GPH, so tonight and tomorrow afternoon you can see their teams blow glass and work with metal.

Hill explains: “We’re going to bring everything from Korotogo in a carrier, and we’re going to send up a little workshop next the ocean and people are going to be able to buy a cocktail, buy some food and watch us blow glass. The idea is that it will relate from making to exhibition. And people will be able to understand the process that goes into making the pieces. Because it is quite hard to comprehend how a glass bowl is made, or how a chilli or frangipani are until you see someone actually making it.

“Shane’s also brought his metal workshop as well, so we’re bringing it all to the GPH…and he’s going to be welding and bending and shaping so again, people can understand the process that goes with the work here.”

Born from Fire is on until Sunday evening.

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