„We were a landlocked country”, Barbara Idzikowska, the by now internationally famous artist who from 1983 - 1985 studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Wroclaw, told me on my last visit to the city. Maybe this is the key to understanding the vibrant development that has taken place in Polish glass art since a number of years. The students and their tutors swarm out into the adjacent Czech Republic in order to try out new techniques.
They seek the personal contact with ‘Artists in Residence’ in the Musée du Verre in Sars Poteries, France, in Scotland in the North Lands Creative Glass centre or in the USA in the Corning Glass
Museum. They participate in international competitions such as Kazimeirz Pawlak at this year’s Coburg Glass
Prize’ (cat. 2014, p. 179), or they participate in a group exhibition with the title As guest: Poland / Glass made in Wroclaw at the Glass Museum Alter Hof Herding in Lette. The most astonishing is however that, despite this zeal the artists remain true to themselves. Evidently they are deeply
rooted in their country’s centuriesold glass makers tradition, the bygone Silesia as central region, and simultaneously they are curious, happy to experiment, open to external stimuli as
evidenced in their work: another form of globalisation in art. The seed for this development was planted in 1946 in Wroclaw with the re-establishment of the School of Fine Art which has, subsequently, changed its name on more than one occasion. Already in the following year the faculty for glass and ceramic was established, today it is an educational establishment of a correspondingly high universal standard. The students learn hot and cold techniques for the creation of artistic objects as well as for functional glassware. They are free to enrol in the painting, sculpture or graphic art classes in order to chance the cross over and as ground breaking innovation for their country they can, since the installation of a large kiln in an annexe of the academy in 2013, also explore working with hot glass. Even a hot shop with Czech glass blowers took place this autumn, at the instigation of the head of the glass class Mariusz Labinski. Clearly foreign influences play a role here. However, if one observes the students whilst
drawing, designing or form designing, which takes place under the support of the professors and tutors, one notices that they don’t develop their ideas on the basis of the interchangeability of
the material as is often the case in Western Europe or the USA. Rather they respect its material proper