Eduard Ruane: Ed learned about glass through his family’s lamp-working and bead-making business. In 2009, he studied International Business and Italian at the Dublin Institute of Technology but left to pursue more creative talents in 2010, with a one-year glass design course at Glasfachschule Zwiesel and a three-month internship at Bildwerk Frauenau in Germany. He was selected as an exhibitor for the RDS Craft Exhibition in 2011 and began his degree studies at Sunderland the same year. In 2012, he had the opportunity to go to Lagos, Nigeria, to help with the restoration of a cathedral window. Despite having such a strong glass background, an interest in mechanics, engineering and practical technology has fuelled his research into a novel technique for screen-printed ceramic tile production, which he hopes to patent.
Jade Tapson: Jade admits she was a bit of a tomboy growing up, but her main interests have always been textiles, fashion and animals. She loves to draw. At college, she dabbled in photography and was attracted to a fashion course, motivated by the innovation of designers like Jean-Paul Gaultier. However, she prefers to ‘make’ even more than to draw, and realised the course would not be hands-on enough for her. It’s not surprising then that she turned to the more practical subjects of glass and ceramics, inspired by artists like Claudi Casanovas. In her foundation studies, she developed her style for controlled, restrained, clean-cut, precise work - and the perfectionist in her was born! In her current degree piece, she is looking to put ‘fashion’ back into her work and create a hybrid costume made of glass and fabric.
Steph Sykes: Steph hails from Leicester and learned the basics of glass blowing at De Montfort University. Steph’s no stranger to colour, and uses it confidently in her work. Her final piece for ‘A’ level was a brightly coloured flamingo, which she painted…without the use of a paintbrush! In fact, she’s really happiest when she has, say, a glue gun, in her hand and likes using a variety of materials to express her ideas. She’s been very inspired by the colour, detail and exuberance of classic works by Tiffany as well as more contemporary artists like Andy Goldsworthy and Anna Mlasowsky. In 2012, Steph did a month’s internship at North Tyneside Art Studios, where she learned to make bracelets and has been busy making and selling them ever since. Recent glass pieces included a series of glass eggs, inspired by the sea birds at Marsden Rock.
Rebekah Jackson: Rebekah is keen to travel. When she has been abroad in the past, she has really enjoyed seeing the art of other countries and would love to experience more of this. A trip to France, for instance, gave her the opportunity of visiting Notre Dame Cathedral, and she was entranced by its stained glass windows. Art history interests her and she loves the Glasgow Style. Her own artistic style is all about detail….and, she says, messiness! She cites nature as a big influence in her work and loves using Indian ink to draw intricate, detailed natural forms, like the skeletal shapes of autumn leaves. One of her inspirations is the artist Emma Williams, who has a cheerful, naïve, natural style. She recently made contact with her via Facebook and now follows her site.
Susan Ratliff: Susan’s father was a coal miner with a strong work ethic. He ensured Susan had a good education and she grew up with a love of reading, communication and a genuine interest in and empathy with people. She became a teacher, a profession she adored, particularly in the area of special educational needs. Over the years, she has also done a lot of volunteer work and strongly recommends this path to her fellow students, as a way of gaining and giving something to society. Although in her mid-fifties, Susan still has the capacity to get excited by life and is loving the experience of studying for a degree, a process which she feels has brought her opportunity, inspiration, development and support. Her art is influenced by nature and architecture, and she finds she is looking at things with more attention now than ever before. She wants to work in glass, and enjoys collaborative pieces.