Born and bred beside Cornish beaches, Jonathan Fuller spends his time in search of sea glass before cleverly crafting his finds into stylish wall sculptures. Words: Madeleine Barber
Jonathan Fuller is standing in his attic studio, surrounded by sea glass and marvelling at the fact his whippet, Nell, is sleeping in her basket. ‘I wish I could train her to find the glass for me, but she’s just not interested,’ he chuckles.
Full-time sculptor Jonathan lives with his wife Laura and two children on the coast in Falmouth. Most days are spent combing beaches for sea glass to turn into sleek wall sculptures, but trips are not always fruitful: ‘Some days I find nothing, and some days I find a handful,’ he says. It’s just the luck of the draw, or in this case, the tide.
Jonathan has been collecting sea glass since he was a young boy, but it was only upon moving in to his Falmouth home nine years ago that he found himself inspired to start creating art. Deciding to put his existing sea glass collection to use, Jonathan made a 20-square-metre-filled circle. ‘It’s huge. I’ve never made one again,’ he says. But the piece still hangs on his wall today, marking the start of something beautiful that led to full-time sculpting, albeit on a smaller scale.
So why choose circular designs? ‘They’re very pure. For me it’s the cyclical nature of the changing tides, if you like. It’s always there, twice a day,’ Jonathan explains. He’s adopted this embodiment of coastal nature from the abstract work of Ben Nicholson and Peter Lanyon. ‘They embrace the seascape, and that’s what it’s all about,’ Jonathan says.
HANKERING FOR HUES
Jonathan’s sea glass sculptures are predominantly made up of pastel whites and greens, but occasionally he’ll stumble upon pale lilacs and other elusive shades like reds and blues, which are notoriously rare. ‘I love finding anything turquoise,’ he says. Thick pieces of seemingly black glass – green when held up to the light – are a regular find, though a challenge for untrained eyes as they are smooth and closely resemble dark stones.
Searching for sea glass is, says the sculptor, a ‘compulsive and addictive hobby’. So much so, that it seems others are keen to follow suit, but Jonathan is careful not to give away his secrets, explaining,‘I’ve had people ask, “what beach do you go to?” and I’m like, “no, I can’t tell you that!”’ Despite a passion for beachcombing, his favourite part of the sculpting process takes place back in his studio: ‘For me, it’s all about the creating. That’s the bit that’s really exciting.’
You can find Jonathan’s artwork in a number of Cornish galleries:
Fowey River Gallery, Fowey (foweyrivergallery.co.uk)
Porthilly Gallery, Rock (porthillygallery.co.uk)
Cornwall Crafts Association Gallery, Trelissick and Trelowarren (cornwallcrafts.co.uk)