Tom Lainchbury

Review: Transition II by Magdalene Odundo @ National Glass Centre

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A wet and windy day in Sunderland is as good a time as any to take advantage of the warmth of the city’s National Glass Centre. The rainy conditions we see up north so frequently continue inside however, with a watery theme in Transition II by Magdalene Odundo.

The exhibition is a visually impressive collection of 1000 hanging glass forms, all individually hand-made, and arranged in a swooping curve similar to that of a wave.

Odundo compares glass to water and its ability to be both fragile and strong, as well as transparent or solid. This might explain the piece’s similarity to waves, and the smaller element shapes similarity to rain drops.

Odundo uses light particularly well, with small spotlights casting shadows that expand the art into the corners of the room, making perspective an important element and giving the pieces an extra depth.

Colour is also used effectively to add a visual appeal. While the majority of the forms are transparent, the odd form is coloured either gold or red, which brightens the piece while not detracting from the theme.

Pieces are intricate, and demonstrate attention to detail, both close up and from a distance. To fill a huge room with an exhibition of glass is no mean feat, but the space is used well. Visitors are forced all the way round the piece, allowing it to be seen from multiple perspectives.

Known as one of Britain’s leading artists in ceramics, Odundo transitioned to glass work in a far more straightforward way than you might imagine. She has experimented with glass for a number of years after being invited to explore the potential of glass by James Maskrey at the Glass Centre. Odundo notes the similarity in shape that she is able to achieve with glass being close to much of her ceramic work, but claims that these forms could only have been created in blown glass. Following her work with Maskrey, Odundo created displays Metamorphosis, Transformation in 2011, and Transition I in 2012, which culminated in today’s Transition II exhibition.

The artist’s fascination with historical artefacts is evident throughout all of her work, with a consistent shape, drawing inspiration from ancient Egyptian ear studs and introducing linear patterns. These patterns can be accredited to her training as a graphic artist and her obsession with optical illusion art.

The piece is evidently a well thought-out exhibition, and draws on her experiences and interests in other areas of art. While it may remain dull and dreary outside, Magdalene Odundo allows us to at least find some some beauty in the wet conditions of Sunderland, with a unique and impressive exhibition at the National Glass Centre.

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