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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bebb

Modern and contemporary art exhibitions to see in London, March 2024

Updated: Mar 6

I spent an inspiring day in London last week. The Glass Heart - Art, Industry & Collaboration at Two Temple Place is a wide and comprehensive exhibition of glass, from the mid 19th century to the present day, showing the beauty of this magical medium and its many diverse applications. An alchemical process, involving burning fossil fuels to transform natural materials including sand and limestone, part of The Glass Heart highlights the relationship between glass and the sea - fluid, reflective, elemental, fragile - and efforts by artists to draw attention to the state of the oceans.

The Glass Heart - Art, Industry & Collaboration at Two Temple Place

In Our Ocean, RBC’s exhibition opening on 11 May, glassmakers Roberta Mason and Neil Wilkin will be amongst several artists showing work inspired by their interest and involvement in conservation and sustainability. Roberta and Neil volunteer with ‘Project Seagrass’, helping to restore and protect this vital marine ecosystem and sequester of carbon. They are working with recycled glass and transforming their living and working practices in order to become carbon neutral.

Neil Wilkin Oceans Dream R662 & Oceans Dream R660 re-melted waste glass

Neil Wilkin -  Oceans Dream R662 & Oceans Dream R660 (re-melted waste glass,

left ht. 40 cms, right ht. 44 cms)

Roberta and Neil will be at RBC on Saturday 8 June (6 - 8 pm) talking about their work. The event will be ticketed. You can find out more here.

 Roberta Mason - Seagrass Superhero I recycled glass

            Roberta Mason - Seagrass Superhero I (recycled glass, detail, ht. 21 cms, photo: Stephen Heaton)

Next stop - Burtynsky: Extraction / Abstraction at Saatchi Gallery. Fragility was also evident in this monumental exhibition of works by photographer, Edward Burtynsky. According to Sir Simon Schama, “There will be no more beautiful and no more important art show in Britain - possibly Europe - this year.” As an example of the power of art to address urgent issues, this exhibition triumphs. Burtynsky says, “I have spent over 40 years bearing witness to how modern civilisation has dramatically transformed our planet”. His photographs are beautiful, and like abstract paintings, but they convey the devastating environmental consequences of industry on the natural world.

“We’ve disconnected from nature. We don’t see it as something we live alongside. We see it as something to use.” EB

Burtynsky: Extraction / Abstraction at Saatchi Gallery

The Society of Wood Engravers’ annual exhibition at Bankside Gallery (now touring) showcased a selection of members’ work of the highest quality. The patience and skill required to engrave the end-grain of a block of hardwood, usually box, achieving exquisitely finely detailed prints, never fails to impress. Some of RBC’s exhibitors were taking part, and I enjoyed seeing engravings by members I hadn’t come across before.

The day ended with an entertaining, provocative talk by Sir Grayson Perry at The Artworkers’ Guild.

“Keep learning, keep learning new skills all the time”.



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