We speak to an artist based in the far west of Pembrokeshire who finds inspiration from his coastal surroundings to make elegant glass sculptures using an unusual technique. Words: Madeleine Barber
Steve Robinson is on a break at his glass gallery and studio in Pembrokeshire, still giddy from his recent holiday to the west coast of Scotland. ‘We hired a campervan and stayed in places by the sea around Skye,’ he recalls. ‘I’m a Scotsman myself; I love the coast from Stranraer all the way up to the very top.’
‘We’ for Steve is his wife Hannah and two boys, Storm (11) and Ruaraidh (5). They’ve lived in St Davids for 10 years now. ‘There’s just something about the ocean,’ Steve says. Having grown up in Troon and coming from a nautical family, it’s no wonder Steve has found a way to spend his days immersed in sea-inspired artwork. He stumbled on his fascination with glass by accident. A misplaced book in the photography section of a bookshop left Steve amazed by an ocean-inspired shell piece by Dale Chihuly, who, in Steve’s opinion, is ‘the number one superstar of glass’. Steve started making tiles and kitchen splashbacks before being enticed by Pembrokeshire’s coastal attributes: ‘It’s very figurative, and the marine life lends itself well to abstract work,’ he explains. Days spent in Whitesands Bay with his boys, turning over rockpools to find shells, seaweed and fish offers endless ideas for glass art opportunities.
Instead of using pre-coloured glass, Steve mixes his own colours using enamel powder. ‘It gives me a lot of freedom and is extremely versatile,’ he says. But glass can be a nightmare to work with. ‘It’s always breaking!’ Steve laughs. ‘Sometimes there’s a eureka moment where you open the kiln and say “wow!” and then the next minute you’ll open it and go “eurghh”.’ Glass-making is an experience, he adds, and the secret is knowing what enamels will do at a particular temperature.
More recently, Steve’s been inspired by the abstract nature of harbour boats near St Davids: ‘I’ve been blending lots of colours together to try and reflect the interesting effects of a rusting boat with its paint flaking off,’ he says. But in the studio, ‘the excitement comes from exploring what you have inside yourself,’ he says. ‘It’s surprising, what can come out of your own head.’
GET IN TOUCH
Call 01437 721357 or visit steverobinsonglass.com for more information.
Explore Steve’s gallery at Steve Robinson Glass, The Glass Studio, Goat Street, St Davids, Pembrokeshire, SA62 6RQ.
Steve also runs glass fusing classes from his studio.