National Glas Centre's Magic Carpet Is UK'S Biggest Glass Artwork

The UK’s largest ever piece of kiln-formed glass has been unveiled at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland. Weighing in at a staggering 30 kilos (66 pounds) and measuring 1.8 metres (six feet) by 1.4 metres (four and a half feet), the massive work was created by Czech artist Alena Matejkova.

Entitled Magic Carpets, the piece was produced using western Europe’s largest kiln, part of the University of Sunderland’s glass department, within the National Glass Centre.

Magic Carpets is now on display in the entrance to the centre, where it will stay until it heads off on tour around the world, before ending up at Expo 2005 in Japan.

"It’s fabulous," said a spokesperson for the centre, who told the 24 Hour Museum that visitors have described it as "brilliant!"

Matejkova has received awards for her work in Italy, Denmark and the Czech Republic and came to the University of Sunderland especially to work on pieces of this size.

Despite the original design being hers, a lot of the credit for its success has been given to the technicians who monitored the kiln daily.

"A kiln of this size – the biggest in western Europe – has never been used in the UK before," explained Sylva Petrova, professor in glass at the University of Sunderland.

"It is also great for modern architecture, which has been crying out for designs like Alena’s. Any kiln-formed glass of this size in modern British architecture has come from abroad. Now the university can supply modern architects in the UK with what they want."

The artist explained how she had drawn inspiration for the piece from the UK’s ancient stones and gravestones.

"I was also influenced by the Normans," she said. "In some way I wanted to connect the Middle Ages with modern technologies now used in Britain. I think it has worked well."

"The university was very brave in taking on this type of process," added Sylva Petrova, "but its rewards are there for all to see – Alena’s design is fantastic and will raise more than a few eyebrows in the UK."

600450 National Glas Centre's Magic Carpet Is UK'S Biggest Glass Artwork
Date: 13 February 2004

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