A MIDLANDS-based arts student will demonstrate his take on black history next month at London Craft Week’s Vessel Gallery using glass and ceramics.
Chris Day’s work is the result of his research into black slavery and the civil rights movement. His talent was spotted by a Vessel judge when Chris was selected as one of 74 artists out of 200 to enter the international 2019 British Glass Biennale exhibition held last year in Stourbridge.
His creative work has resulted in a series of personal pieces that discuss and investigate the treatment of black people in Britain and the United States. He also used materials derived from heating and electrical systems in reference to his ‘other’ career.
I’d never thought about going to University and it was my wife who encouraged me to go to an open day.
His research has focused on the history of the slave trade in the 18th Century, with the copper cage in one piece representing the restriction of movement both physically and mentally, emphasising the complete control traders possessed over another human’s life.
Day, 52, who hails from Lichfield, south Staffordshire, is in the throes of completing a Master’s degree in Design and Applied Arts at the Black Country School of Art at the University of Wolverhampton , after clinching a First Class Honours Degree at the venue in the same subject.
He said: “When I arrived at the University, I was a blank canvas. I knew I wanted to tell a different story about slavery but not in the way it’s been done before. I wanted to change the narrative.
“I’d never thought about going to University and it was my wife who encouraged me to go to an open day and talk about my options. I’d never considered it, but I’d always loved art and did an Art O Level. It was something I always wanted to go back to and explore. But I was 48 at the time, with a mortgage and two kids.
“I can’t thank the University enough for inspiring me, they have nurtured me and they have instilled confidence in me. I needed something to spark my enthusiasm.
“When I saw the studio and facilities at the School of Art, it was such an amazing space, I knew I wanted to work with glass – I’d never worked with it and it’s something that doesn’t really want to be worked with so that was a real challenge for me from the start.
“The University gave me something that I can do for me. I’ve got my career but as soon as I dipped my toe in the water even though I knew I probably wouldn’t make money, but it’s a bonus if I do. This is my passion and it’s my personal journey.”
Talking about his work, Chris said: “My main purpose is to engage the audience on issues that are hard to confront on many levels, using art to help overcome some of the traumas that haunt our collective past.
“Glass is just like the human spirit attempting to break free, creating areas of resistance, while still being overcome by the boundaries that confine it.”
Angel Monzon, Vessel’s founder, met Chris when he was judging the Biennale in 2019, where Chris was highly commended for his work. He said: “I immediately found his work hugely emotive.
“It is borne out of deep research and personal experience, informed by the history of race relations both here and in the US. The finished pieces might not be conventionally “beautiful” but they possess an extraordinary raw energy.”
Technically he’s also incredibly dedicated and has been growing his skills at a fast pace, not only in glass but also ceramics. In my view he’s definitely one to watch for the future and it’s a delight to be showing his work in the gallery.”
London Craft Week’s Vessel Gallery will take place between September 30 – October 8 at the Vessel Gallery, Kensington Park Road. The exhibition celebrates outstanding British and international creativity. The festival brings together over 250 established and emerging makers, designers, brands and galleries from around the world.