2005 Australia Review

From the GAS President: A review of the 2005 GAS conference in Australia

Anna Boothe gives Australia Conference Co-Chairs, Pauline Mount, Alison Dunn, and Matthew Larwood the Croix de Verre.

I suspect this finds many of you (875 to be exact) still reveling in your memories of the Adelaide conference, and for the non-Australian attendees, longing for the times beforehand or afterwards spent in exploration of this convivial and compelling country.

In varios GAS publications, I have expounded on my upbeat attitude when it comes to traveling the organization outside of the purview of the States.  The challenge of organizing such an overseas event is never to be understated (it requires a magnanimous effort on the part of the staff, Board, co-chairs, event planner and volunteers) – all who are to be heavily lauded.  Extending ourselves in this way is not without financial risk.  But, after having received uncountable positive responses, I am convinced that our efforts and our chance-taking are not for naught, and that we are succeeding in growing our society into a borderless landscape.  Nevertheless, I should mention that our “globalizing” endeavors do necessitate a follow-up succession of several years of U.S. conferences – for financial and coordination reasons.  But, assuredly, we will be setting our sights on choosing a future non-U.S. venue after that.

I thought that instead of pontificating about my perspective on the conference itself that I would select some of the responses that GAS/I have received since that weekend and share them with you:

What a great conference and a great country! … I am so glad that GAS continues to develop itself as an international organization in a very real sense.  So many people I spoke with during the conference said time and time again how important it was for them personally that GAS produces conferences in places like Adelaide.  They join the organization because they really feel a part of it, and that can only help the glass community at large.  I, for one, am proud to be a part of an organization and a movement that is truly global in nature … I think the best part was seeing so many new and young faces, people who are catching the excitement of glass and the community we’ve built over the years.  Many thanks to the GAS board for keeping the vision not just alive but moving forward, and kudos to the Australians who put on such a remarkable conference.  It is one I will remember for a long time. 
– Robert Carlson, Past President, GAS Board of Directors

With 31 exhibitions, the Hot Glass Roadshow, and workshops in support of the “GAS@Ausglass” conference, Adelaide in May was the centre of the universe for all things glass.  Thank you to the powers who granted Australia this glass rite of passage; it only occurs in your own backyard once in a lifetime.  As Margot Osborne stated in her “Culture in Review” article for The Adelaide Review (May 13-26), “When it comes to art, democracy has a lot to answer for.”  There was something for everyone…
– Pauline Mount, Conference Co-Chair

GAS just gets better and better.  I’m amazed at how the staff and board put these increasingly complicated conferences together.  Unless you have been involved, it is impossible to fully understand how the organizers kill themselves on these events.  Adelaide was a great site.  The facilities were excellent and there were many worthwhile presentations.  I only wish that I could have absorbed more.  At one point there were three lectures and two demos that I wanted to attend – all going on at the same time!  A highlight for me was Anjali Srinivasan’s action-packed and extremely insightful lecture on glassmaking in India.  I was also very happy about the Korean representation at the conference – both in lectures and the small exhibition.  Jonathan Schmuck introduced me to Tim-Tams.  They were my best souvenir.
– Susanne Frantz, GAS Journal Editor

In response to the many simultaneous sessions: 
[Ausglass] members were all interested in seeing as much as they could, which means that [the] choice of talks, demos, and events were all considered valuable to the conference participants … The conference brought to Australia the opportunity for Australians to attend and participate in a forum that was comprised of both international and national artists, galleries, students, theorists, collectors, and visitors … I hope that all who attended enjoyed the experience as much as the Australian glass community did, and on behalf of Ausglass, I would like to thank the GAS Board for accepting the invitation to hold a GAS conference within Australia.
– Janeen Toner, Ausglass President

I don’t think Australia has seen anything like it!  It was a truly fantastic conference … My students really enjoyed the international community and for many it was their first introduction.  From their view, GAS was a huge injection of enthusiasm and information.  The conference catered to students through a variety of ways, but what they told me was seeing artists at diverse levels of their careers was very helpful… From the wider perspective, we are truly a global community.  No other medium has such an established network of artists and exchange.  It is a fundamental quality of contemporary studio glass.  GAS is in a unique position to be the hub of that dialogue.
– Richard Whiteley, Chair, Glass Program, Canberra School of Art, Australian National University

I am so glad that I went to Adelaide!  It was an experience that I will not forget.  Although foreign conferences are the most difficult to coordinate and the most expensive for the organization and its members, it is very important for GAS to make the effort to leave the States once in a while.  The glass community is incredibly diverse geographically and GAS’ willingness to reflect this in its choice of conference venues makes a powerful statement.  Adelaide, Amsterdam, and Seto were all unique conferences that worked to support and sustain the wonderful and rare qualities of inclusion and openness that are characteristic of the glass community worldwide.
– Tina Oldknow, Curator of Modern Glass, The Corning Museum of Glass

In my opinion, it is equally heartening and humbling to be able to travel half way around the world and to be able to find commonality with others who share a passion for expression through a certain material.  Yes, I can achieve this kind of camaraderie in my own community at home.  But, at home, I am at a great loss to experience the totality of a different culture’s aegis and the visceral effects of experiencing art and artist in context.  There are great reasons to step outside of our proverbial bounds.

Anna Boothe
President of the GAS Board of Directors

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