London-based artist and designer Kira Phoenix K’inan brings together fine art and craft by though her glass sculptures. Kira’s artwork explores the nature of drawing and how intertwisting each line creates works that are in a constant visual flux.
While Kira was a Masters student at the Royal College of Art she explored traditional glass techniques and translated them into a contemporary series of glass sculptures. She developed a unique technique of low relief drawing, the Relief Drawing Technique, where she carved directly into a plaster sheet and cast the piece using fine ground glass.
Tell us why you first wanted to pursue a career in art
At the beginning of my art career I was ambivalent about being an artist as there were a lot of uncertainties about how to make a living and I also wanted to explore other avenues of interest. I made the commitment to being an artists when I went travelling for six month by myself in 2012 though Asia. One morning I woke up with the desire to paint, so went to the local art shop in Hong Kong, bought all the supplies I needed and created a body of work called The Travel Drawings series. This series of work has developed into my personal drawing style today. Since that trip I applied to do a masters at The Royal College of Art in Glass and Ceramics, had the opportunity to take part in two residencies, I am now part of two artists collectives (ArtCan and The Cult House) and have exhibited globally. To balance my creative work I also tutor, which gives me the ability to share knowledge and support the next artistic generation. Having this balance between making art and teaching allows me to push my creativity in the studio and develop bodies of work that test the limits of the materials I am working with, in this case glass.
Who or what were your easiest inspirations?
I was born in Hong Kong and lived on Lama Island. Growing up on Lama Island allowed me the freedom to explore the natural world both on land and in the sea. I have continued to be drawn to nature, especially the ocean. This inspiration can be seen in the new series of glass works, The Constructure Series and Iridescent Storm Series. Whilst studying art at A-level my art teacher, Jane Wade, introduced me to abstract art. This included Futurism and artists such as Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla and Umberto Boccioni. The vivid colours, dramatic lines and use of movement have continued to inspire me and can be seen clearly in my glass work and drawings.
Which body of work have you been most proud of?
When I decided to apply to the Royal College of Art I had one aim and that was to translate the two-dimensional black lines of The Travel Drawings series into three-dimensional glass sculptures. I explored many glass techniques, including glass blowing, glass casting and pate de verre (translates to paste of glass, fired in a kiln at a lower temperature and a quick glass fusing programme). Through trial and error I developed The Relief Drawing Technique, which has been one of my proudest moments. To create a Relief Drawing I carve directly into plaster (called refractory when casting glass as you also include quartz or flint and fibre glass in the mixture to prevent the mould from crumbling, cracking or leaking) and fill these cared lines with fine ground coloured glass. The act of carving allows me to make one-off glass sculptures. From this technique I have since developed other series of work and techniques, including Carve Drawing, Scratch Drawing and Chisel Drawing. The Carve Drawing glass sculpture Collateral Beauty in White has been shortlisted for the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize 2019.
What have been your career highlights of the past year?
So far in 2019 I have had the pleasure to display my work in a solo exhibition at The Hellenic Centre, taken part in several group shows organised by the artist collective ArtCan, taken part in the Fusion Art Exhibition organised by The Cult House, been chosen as the Artist of The Month for the ArtCan blog, been short listed for the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize 2019, exhibited the Magenta Type at London Glass Blowing, donated a blown glass piece to the Hellenic Engineers Society and I have been featured on Asians In Britain (@asiansinbritian).
Who, in your own mind, have been the most trailblazing female artists?
As a female artist I have found the The Guerrilla Girls to be trailblazers. These incredible female feminist artists fight against sexism and racism within the art world, demanding that all female artists should be held in equal esteem to their male counterparts. They have questioned the role women usually take in the art world, like the submissive nude hanging in Met. Museum, or asking why most collectors won't buy artworks created by women. This group of women use their creative voice and show that when women work together they are able to shine a light on the inequities within the art world and encourage other females artist to be proactive within their careers.
What would be your dream project?
I had the opportunity to attend the Seatrade Awards 2019 in London earlier this year and was looking forward to hearing Professor Dame Jane Francis, Direct of the British Antarctic Survey, speak. As my most recent work has been focusing on how climate change is effecting our oceans, from the slow death of coral reefs to the increase of tropical cyclones, I would be very interested in creating a series of artworks that translate the survey's research into glass sculptures.
What have you got planned for the rest of 2019?
As I look forward to the rest of 2019 I have a couple events that I am excited to be taking part in. In August the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize winners will be announced and I will be showing three works from the Constructure Series at the group exhibition Wanderlust (exhibition opens to the public on Saturday 3 August). I am also in the process of completing the next round of applications for glass residencies, exhibitions, awards and art fairs, as well as waiting to hear back from different event organisers.
Within my own practice I am developing a new project, Fractal Conversation. It is a collaboration between drawing, music and dance. My drawings act as the spark that starts this sensory conversation. In response to my drawing, a musician will write a piece of music and to continue this conversation, a dancer/choreographer will respond to the music with their physical interpretation. Should the collaboration be successful I aim to keep developing the Fractal Conversation into a cyclic artwork, where I respond to the dancers movements with new drawings, which in turn the musician will respond to with new music and so on. I also aim to take this project into my glass practice and create a series of glass objects that respond to the Fractal Conversation, potentially during another glass residency.
See Kira’s work here https://www.viewzine.co.uk/digitalresidency