Glass blowers Dirk Huysman and Mary Ann Richards work together on a project in their Gabriola Island studio. Now through June 24 an exhibition of their work is on display at the island’s Hive Emporium. (Photo courtesy Ryan Parker)

Glass blowers Dirk Huysman and Mary Ann Richards work together on a project in their Gabriola Island studio. Now through June 24 an exhibition of their work is on display at the island’s Hive Emporium. (Photo courtesy Ryan Parker)

Gabriola glass blowers Dirk Huysman, Mary Ann Richards launch first solo show

Plan a road trip: Island’s Hive Emporium hosting exhibition through June 24

Gabriola Islanders Dirk Huysman and Mary Ann Richards have been blowing glass together for 22 years.

Despite that longevity, they are only just now presenting their first solo exhibition, Emergence: From Fire to Form, at the island’s Hive Emporium.

The show includes both blown and sculpted pieces, and Huysman said the title is a romantic description of the process of creation.

“When you open up that furnace at 2100 F you have this orange, glowing, very hot doorway that you just opened up and to keep the glass flexible we work with a reheating furnace which is like a barrel full of flame,” he explained.

“It’s all about keeping the glass in the right temperature to be able to manipulate it.”

Figures, vessels and paperweights will be on display. Huysman said there’s a “longstanding tradition” of paperweight manufacture in the glass-blowing world, though he questions its relevance in the digital age.

Huysman said he and Richards are approaching the five-year anniversary of operating their “hot house” on Gabriola. They began their practice at the Alberta College of Art and Design in the late ’90s, although at first they were only able to create on a weekly basis, which Huysman said got frustrating.

“When you’re blowing every day you’re really starting to get of sense of what the glass is like and what it’s going to do. When you just blow once a week it is like a new mystery every week,” he said.

The pair orders specialized blowing glass in pellet form in 50-pound sacks from a supplier in Seattle. It takes two and a half days to melt the glass down for use. Heating and cooling glass is a delicate process due to the risk of cracking and leaking. It takes 12 hours for a finished piece to cool to room temperature. Huysman said he views the art form as a tactile version of photography.

“I used to work in the darkroom a lot. When you printed a picture, it was like painting with light. And I saw this T.V. show about glass blowing and I thought, ‘That’s like going 3-D.’ It’s like sculpting with light,” he said.

WHAT’S ON … Dirk Huysman and Mary Ann Richards’s Emergence: From Fire to Form runs through June 24 at the Hive Emporium (9-575 North Rd.) on Gabriola Island, a short ferry ride from Nanaimo.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Visual Arts

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Alan Tudyk stars as Alien Harry Vanderspeigel in the new series Resident Alien (Photo by: James Dittinger/SYFY)
Resident Alien brings Vancouver Island to the small screen with January premiere

Quirky series shot in Ladysmith will air every Wednesday on the CTV Sci-Fi Channel

Comox-based cinematographer Maxwel Hohn’s new documentary captures the lives of Vancouver Island’s coastal wolves. Photo courtesy Maxwel Hohn.
New mini-documentary shot on Vancouver Island echoes the ‘call of the coastal wolves’

Photography heavyweights from B.C. come together for Maxwel Hohn’s second wildlife documentary

The 2021 Victoria Film Festival includes Vancouver Island produced feature film All-in Madonna. The festival looks a bit different this year, but film-lovers can still expect a full and diverse lineup. (Courtesy of VFF)
Victoria Film Festival returns with virtual viewing

Lineup features 50 films including Vancouver Island-produced All-in Madonna

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Work on Hornby Island Arts Centre to start this month

Community worked with award-winning architectural firm on design

Western Edge Theatre artistic director Brian March and local theatre artists Brianna Hamilton and Daniel Puglas (from left) make up Western Edge’s new team of “artistic associates.” (News Bulletin file photos/Courtney Harder)
Nanaimo theatre company adds younger, diverse voices to artistic team

Western Edge hopes new ‘artistic associates’ will help form new ideas, reach new audiences

Most Read