Artists recognised at International Festival of Glass in Stourbridge - with PICTURES
The International Festival of Glass kicked off in the Black Country with a glitzy awards ceremony honouring the country's leading glass artists.
The world-renowned festival is taking in Stourbridge Glass Quarter over four days and sees artwork of all shapes and sizes exhibited.
It was launched with the opening of the British Glass Biennale exhibition - the centre piece of the festival which showcases artwork from the country's leading glass sculptors.
Hundreds of people flocked to the Ruskin Glass Centre, where the exhibition is taking place, to take part in the launch event on Thursday evening.
Six awards were handed out on the night to artists whose work was deemed to be best in show by an expert panel of judges.
The exhibition features work from 63 artists, whose glass sculptures line the bright white exhibition space inside the centre.
The other host venues of the festival are the Red House Glass Cone and White House Cone.
Dignitaries from the glass-making world packed into the centre where got a glimpse of the colourful glass sculptures up close.
One of the pieces - a glass bowl made by Allister Malcolm, 42, from Penn, who is based at the White House Cone - sold for £840.
A sculpture featuring a chandelier of glass shoes, made by former University of Wolverhampton student Andrew Collins from Huddersfield, was among the award-winning designs.
The 37-year-old's piece, called 'Urban Chandelier' won him the runners-up student prize.
Andrew, who is now studying at University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, said: "It is absolutely fantastic to win the award.
"The competition is just astonishing, it is an exciting event. To get recognition from people in the industry, I don't think it can get much better.
"I began glass making three and a half years ago, it is something I have been pulled towards."
Artist Joseph Harrington won the Biennale prize for his sculpture called 'St Helens' - which features two green chunks of glass that look like mountains.
Joseph used ice to help him create the piece and he finished it off by polishing it.
Meanwhile Jade Tapson was crowned winner of the student category for her sculpture called 'Scale', which features eight circles with geometric patterns on them.
Heike Brachlow's 'Analemma' piece won the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers award, while Paul Stopler came runner-up for his piece called 'Sia' in that category.
The final award of the night, called the London Glassblowing award, went to Monette Larson for her blue crystal-like sculpture.
Allister, who sold his sculpture within the first hour of the launch event, said: "This is exhibition is one of the best in Europe.
"This festival is fundamental in terms of putting Stourbridge on the map. There will be people who are international visitors coming along."
Allister's sculpture is covered in silver piece and features floral-like patterns which are coloured in blue.
Another glass artist from the Black Country exhibiting their artwork was Charlotte Hughes-Martin, aged 39 from Upper Gornal.
She lauded the festival for showcasing the glass heritage of Stourbridge and showcasing the talent of British glass artists.
Charlotte, who has been a full-time glass maker since 1997, had two pieces of work being showcased in the Biennale exhibition. One was tribute to the first dog in space, called Laika.
Matt Durran, curator of the exhibition, said the Biennale exhibition is "a celebration of the strength of British glass on an international stage, moment in time, a view of the contemporary glass landscape as it is today."
Matt said the standard of work this year has been 'very high' and made the judging process a 'difficult and challenging task'.
Stourbridge has a 400-year heritage of glass-making and this history is incorporated into the glass festival.
Organisers of the festival say thousands of visitors flock to the annual event each year. This year's festival is the seventh time it has been held.
More awards for artists will be handed end on the last day of the festival on Monday.
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