"When I realised that seaweed was once used as a flux in glassmaking, I was seized by the idea that a beach could be turned into glass.
The beach is a threshold, the moving line between land and sea. Glass is also an indeterminate threshold between fluid and solid states of matter, and this is something of its magic. " Abigail Reynolds
In 2019 the artist Abigail Reynolds set out to change a Cornish beach into glass. Her exhibition Flux shows the glass she made using only the simple materials of seaweed and sand. Alongside the glass, displayed as mouth blown roundels, the artist shows her film, which documents the glass-making process. For this exhibition Reynolds has additionally produced a large-scale woodcut print of kelp; the seaweed mixed with beach sand used to make the glass, and a book titled Flux: Glass from sand and seaweed (2022).
Having spent a summer gathering sand and seaweed, a furnace was built at Kestle Barton in September 2019 to melt them to glass at an event titled Estover, a word which refers to ancient rights to take ‘that which is necessary’ from the land. Continuing themes established at Estover, Abigail considers the value of labour, and how we can change our relationship to the land by looking through the lenses of different narratives.
Close to Kestle Barton in Redruth, Reynolds has newly unveiled a permanent piece commissioned by Cornwall Council. This work Tre, is a four meter high window installed the reference library at Kresen Kernow the Cornish Archive. Tre incorporates glass roundels made from sand and seaweed also shown at Kestle Barton. It is free to view during opening hours 10am - 4pmTue-Sat.
With her book Flux created for this exhibition, Reynolds has produced a companion book titled Tre: A window for Cornwall. Tre unpicks the threads of meaning woven into the window at Kresen Kernow, and gathers together the voices of writers and academics, who share some of the many diverging stories and histories to be read in the Cornish landscape. Both publications are available at Kestle Barton during the exhibition of Flux, in an edition of 500. A collectors’ edition of 20 books is also available. These are signed and presented together with a sculptural form enclosing a disk of olive green kelp glass.