Billy James Crellin and Bastien Thomas (VIC) – 2020 Finalists

Veil, 2019
sculpted hot-glass, sandblasted, hand-pumiced
dimensions variable
Photo: Michael Haines

Emerging Artist Category

Billy James Crellin is a designer and glassmaker based on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Crellin has a Bachelor of Visual Arts in Photomedias (Hons) (2012) from Sydney College of the Arts. Crellin’s technical experience was established across organisations throughout Europe including the Academy of Arts Architecture & Design, Prague (UMPRUM); Cesty Skla/ Ways of glass, Czech Republic; Berlin Glas e.V. and Bild-Werk Fraunenau, Germany. He has trained with glassmaker Ondřej Strnadel at Valešské Meziříči Glassworks, Czech Republic and designer and glassblower Erik Meaker at Jyderup Højskole, Denmark. His training in hot-glass was further developed as a JamFactory Glass Studio Associate from 2017 to 2018. Alongside designer Eva Novakova, Crellin heads glass tableware brand Studio Dokola which aims to bring hand-made functional glassware to the forefront of Australian design. Correspondingly, Crellin’s conceptual work is significantly object focused, in his pursuit of finding the intersection between industrial and artistic frameworks of practice. 

French-born Bastien Thomas was trained as a factory glassblower at Arc International, France and Klart Glass, Norway. His desire to follow a more artistic path led him to Australia, where alongside Crellin, he was a Glass Studio Associate at JamFactory from 2017 to 2018. Inspired by history, archaeology and geology, Thomas utilises both hot and cold processes in his practice, experimenting with colour and texture to mimic the natural effects of time against objects and materials. Thomas was a finalist in the Emerging Category of the FUSE Glass Prize 2018 as well as in the 2020 Milano Vetro -35 competition. While Thomas continues his glass blowing career in Europe, he maintains a strong connection with the Australian glass movement.

Veil is the coming together of Thomas and Crellin’s practice. Two separate entities, they have merged artistically to formulate a combined vision of the material. Recognising the strength of working in groups within the contemporary glass movement, they endeavour to open up the working relationship that typically underscores the medium of hot-glass. Their partnership first developed during a 2019 residency at GlazenHuis, Belgium. Lending from one another a responsiveness and improvisation with hot-glass, a combined set of sculptural techniques, alongside an overarching architectural, geometric style. Referencing the veil technique – found in both glassmaking and fine art practices – this work considers the influence of the concealed bubble within the final form. The polarity of the shape’s hard geometry against its soft deformation – induced during the final stages of making by rapidly inflating the obscured bubble at the centre of the piece.”