Essence of a cloud biographies

Mark Eliott // Concept, text, glass artwork, woodcarving, performance

Mark is a contemporary artist whose core practice is flame-worked glass.  In addition, he incorporates a variety of media including text, drawing, music, performance, stop-motion animation and wood carving.  Mark’s work has a number of themes. One is sculptural abstraction informed by synaesthesia and the dance between improvisation and structure.  Another is representation of biological organisms influenced by the 19th - 20th century glassblowers Rudolph and Leopold Blaschka.  A third is narrative based works including the telling of stories through objects inspired by mythology and the story telling of his father.

Mark completed a Master of visual arts and Master of studio arts at Sydney College of the arts as well as associate diploma in Jazz studies (saxophone) at Sydney conservatorium of music.  His Collaborations include the stop-motion animation project with Jack McGrath for which they coined the term Flame-ation (flame-glass animation).  Their film: Doctor Mermaid and the Abovemarine has been screened at a number of festivals as well as glass and animation conferences in Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, the US and UK, winning three awards at The Sydney underground film festival in 2010.

Marks work is in many private and public collections.  In 2016 his piece: Apparatus for the Extraction of Cloud Essence was purchased by The Corning Glass Museum in New York.  He also has works in The Glass Museet in Denmark, The National Glass collection in Wagga Wagga, The National Film and Sound Archive, the National gallery in Canberra and the Gallery of Western Australia, where he won the 2019 Tom Malone Glass prize with the work ‘Down at the Water Table’. Mark provides work for a number of galleries including Veronica George in Melbourne, Glass artists gallery in Sydney, Flying Pig Precinct in Berry, Aspects of Kings Park in WA and Canberra Glassworks and has taught flame-work at venues such as 107 projects, Sydney, Gordon Studios, Victoria and Canberra Glassworks.  Mark works mostly between Redfern, Sydney and Mongarlowe in the NSW Southern Highlands. He also provides interactive demonstrations and has a strong interest in environmental and human rights issues.

Collaborators and Assistants on the exhibition.

Anna Kirk // Assistant curation, glass sprouts, social media

Anna May Kirk is an emerging curator, artist and project maker based in Sydney, Australia. She currently holds positions as the Executive Producer of Arts and Culture at FBi Radio and the Coordinator of AD Space. She is interested in collaborative, experimental and community focused approaches to project making and in 2021 founded Supper Sessions. In the past Kirk has held roles at Underbelly Arts, UNSW Art & Design, ALASKA Projects, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Down / Under Space, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Her artistic and curatorial projects have been presented at Artbank, Firstdraft, The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, CCAS, Kudos Gallery, BAD Festival, In Motion Festival and Desire Lines, amongst other alternate spaces and events.

Ainslie Walker // Scent

Ainslie is more than a perfumer, she is a Scent Smith - multi faceted. She weaves scents for olfactory exhibitions, product collaborations, workshops and evaluates for written articles. She has worked with Tamara Dean, Disney, Country Roads, Carriageworks, MONA, Art Gallery of SA and AJE.

Ainslie and Mark’s imaginations first collided during Marks glass blowing demonstrations at The Other Art Fair, Sydney in 2019. Ainslie explained the intracies of perfumery and how she might be able to add to Marks amazing tale and art pieces. She offered to collaborate with Mark to recompose/replicate and recapture the subtle scent and tonics found in his essence of Cloud bottles which were first collected in the 1880’s by Professor McFloggarty over lands including Madagascar, New Zealand, Australia and England as well as parts of Asia and Europe.

Spike Deane // Cast glass mountains and boat, animation consulting

Spike Deane is a visual artist specialising in cast glass within a mixed media arts practice. Graduating with Honours from Sydney College of the Arts in 2012 she was a finalist that year in ‘Hatched’ the National Graduate Art Prize and the National Student Art Glass Prize with work combining animation and glass. A member of the Australian Fairy Tale Society, she presented at the 2015 annual conference and took part in the GLINT 2015 program, a dual residency between the Canberra Glassworks and Megalo Print Studio. Spike is keenly interested in combining glass with other materials and media.

Jeff Hamilton // Co-designing and handcrafting of stained glass window

Despite being “too busy” to take on a new project, particularly given the very short deadline, I was keen to accept Mark’s invitation to collaborate on a project he had in mind: a stained glass element to his forthcoming exhibition. The brief was to create a small window for a devotional chapel in the 15th century monastery established in Galicia, Northern Spain. The main subject of the window: Mark’s fictional Cloud Goddess, Keeper of this earthly universe and source of that most mysterious and sought-after substance, Cloud Essence.

The project appealed to me on many levels, not least its very tongue-in-cheek approach to religious art; the Goddess had to be more-or-less easily mistaken for the Madonna or else the incumbent sisters would risk the ire of the Inquisition.

Professionally I walk a fine line between my personal atheism and my work as religious artist. In the course of this work I relish the research undertaken, paying homage to the great artists of the Renaissance, Baroque and subsequent historical periods. So the project was a good fit with my current oeuvre. And it presented an opportunity to showcase my skills in an exhibition of work by a prominent contemporary glass artist whose work I admire very much.

Peter Nilsson // Cutting and polishing of cast glass

Peter Nilsson was born 1967 in rural Sweden near the village of Orrefors and its famous Glassworks. With that surrounding glass became the most natural material to use if you were interested in design. Peter was surrounded by kind craftsmen who let him play around in their workshops. He decided to become a glass engraver at the age of seven years.

After graduation from the senior high school program at the National Glass school in Orrefors, Peter was hired as a glass engraver at Pukebergs glassworks as an engraver, and as an assistant to different designers.

At an age of 26, Peter went to university to study art history and ethnology. On New Years eve 1994, Mats Jonasson called and asked if he might be interested in working for him as an art director assistant. The job involved solving technical problems and representing the company abroad. One day an artist friend said to Peter. " You have been creating glass items as long as I have known you. Why don’t you grab the bull by the horns and get yourself a design education".

He followed the advice and went back to university. After the education he started work as an artist and freelance designer for Bsweden and Nybro Crystal. He worked at the Swedish National glass school as a teacher in Coldworking techniques, Sketching techniques and Art history. Peter stayed at the glass school for nine years the last five years as the head teacher.

He moved to Australia with his partner in September 2010. Since then Peter has been working as a freelance glass artist, living in Canberra ACT.

Laura Altman // Music for exhibition sound track: ‘Am I’ recorded by the band Chaika

Laura Altman is a clarinettist, improviser and composer, based in Sydney. A long-standing member of Splinter Orchestra and Prophets, Laura has been an important voice in the Sydney improvised and exploratory music scene for more than a decade. Her collaborations with Australian and international musicians have seen her perform across the country and around the world, and feature on multiple recordings, notably with trio Great Waitress and ensemble Chaika. She is also a music educator, event organiser and radio host on Eastside Radio.
Laura studied composition at the Sydney Conservatorium, where she currently teaches in the Improvisation and Composition departments. Currently, her main avenue for composition is Chaika, in which Laura also plays clarinet and sings.

Ben Fink // original music for exhibition sound track: ‘All at Sea’ 

An integral member of the Australian independent music scene for over 25 years, Ben has performed, recorded, composed, with acts such as The Whitlams, Lior, Christa Hughes, iOTA, Ali McGregor, Lily Dior, Moussa Diakite, Aya Larkin, Miriam Lieberman, Waiting for Guinness, The Stiff Gins, Voices from the Vacant Lot and King Clam. Ben co-wrote The Whitlams single “Best Work”, Lior’s indie hit “I’ll Forget You” and Lily Dior’s “Love is like a River”.
Current projects include alt-indie outfit, Close to Forever (with Dale Caldwell, Chris Abrahams), old school blues project the Loud Hailers (with Christa Hughes), street gypsy jazz folk minstrel band Molto Bene and the Vague Arrangements (with George Washingmachine, Mark Eliott) as well as a solo project under his own name. His first solo album …”continue to breathe normally…” is an intricate musical tapestry that traverses elements of soul, folk, groove, blues and jazz, all brought together and unified by his unique and powerful voice.

Ben has worked variously as composer, Musical Director, guitarist, singer, and or performer with the likes of Sydney Opera House, Sydney Theatre Company, Stalker Theatre, Belvoir Theatre, Hayes Theatre, ABC Radio, Live Ideas (Hidden Sydney) and The Performance Space. Ben has composed and performed music for film, television, radio and theatre including Khyentse Norbu's feature film Travelers and Magicians, the multi-national collaborative outdoor art installation Nomanslanding with Turpin + Crawford, and the Waterloops concert (with Mark Eliott) at Janet Lawrence’s H20 Water Bar installation at Paddington Reservoir. He composed music for the 2019 indie film Emu Runner. Ben runs a successful private practice as a vocal coach and vocal technique instructor, and also teaches a rock band program at various schools in Sydney.

Jonathan Zwartz // Original music for exhibition soundtrack ‘Shimmer’ and Luminous from album: The Remembering and Forgetting of the Air

As double bassist, Jonathan has played with Pharoah Sanders, Branford Marsalis, Lionel Loueke, Kurt Elling, Nigel Kennedy, Mark Murphy, Annie Ross, Larry Goldings, Johnny Griffin, Junior Cook, Terri-Lynn Carrington, Mike Nock and Katie Noonan. Jonathan Zwartz is also¬¬ a composer, producer, songwriter, live music advocate and curator. He has released three award winning albums as composer and bandleader.

In late 2019 recorded with Mike Nock, Julien Wilson and Hamish Stuart a composer’s collaborative album entitled ‘This World’ which was released in 2020 to critical acclaim, sold out a two week National tour and was been nominated for the 2020 ARIA award also.

Jonathan has a Masters Degree in Music from the Australian National University, an Associate Diploma in Jazz Studies from the NSW Conservatorium and also completed a diploma in screen composition at the Australian Film Television and Radio School in 2012.
He co-produced a ten part series on jazz for ABC TV entitled ‘The Pulse’,

He has composed Music for documentaries - ‘To Spring From The Hand’ (2014) ‘Ka-Ching, a Pokies Nation’ (ABC, 2015), ‘Madhattan’, (2016), ‘The Scribe’ (ABC 2017) ‘Backtrack Boys’ (ABC 2018), ‘Richard Leplastrier – Framing the View’ (ABC 2020) and a number of short films as well. He is co-director of The Starfish Club, a monthly concert series now celebrating it’s 21st year,

In 2020 Jonathan was commissioned by SIMA to compose a concert work for the Finnish Harpist Iro Haarla to be performed in 2021, and was most recently one of 25 recipients selected to compose music for the ABC from their 2020 New Australian Music Fund initiative. He co-produced and wrote the orchestrations for singer/songwriter Martha Marlow’s debut album, Medicine Man due for release in May 2021.

He is currently curating live music for a series of free concerts for City of Sydney in the month of February 2021 under the working title ‘Music and Architecture’.

Rhiannon Hopley // Video of interactive glass-blowing and scent-sniffing demonstration

Rhiannon Hopley is a Sydney-based multidisciplinary artist, curator, and the creative mind behind RH Photography & Design. Which provides a range of creative services to assist other creatives stand out with quality content to promote their work and events.

Hopley's own artistic practice is based primarily within the medium of photography and moving image, exploring the abstraction and stillness of time and place, and the relationship between nature, the urban landscape, and the human condition.

She is part of Micro Galleries International Artist Collective, and Creative Lead on numerous projects and festivals. She is on the all-female editorial team of MGZ - Micro Galleries Zine which showcases artists and creative change-makers from around the world.

Her work has been widely published and exhibited nationally and internationally and held in private collections in Australia, USA, Canada and France.

Richard Weinstein // Photography of Marks pieces

Whether it is a 1ct diamond, exotic race car, President or Prime minister, Richard has been behind the camera. An Accredited Professional and Award Wining Photographer, working in Sydney since 1997, he divides his time between commercial work, personal projects and lecturing students. Working for the industry he has been a past president of the ACMP and National Board Member of the AIPP. From his career in photography spanning 30 years highlights have been photographing Nelson Mandela, Malcolm Turnbull and Brian Lara. Recently published Coffee Table Books include - Elfin the Spirit of Speed and Making the Cut with John Cutler. Richard brings his passion creativity and technical skill to each and every job.

Shane Wiechnik // Co-designing, hand crafting and aging of timber pieces

Shane Orion Wiechnik is a furniture restorer/conservator living and working in Sydney, Australia. He has travelled the world to learn his craft including spending time in England and Japan. He works with a number of established restorers, makers, and conservators trying to learn and share and grow knowledge about historic and modern techniques in furniture and related crafts. His own private business, Crafts and Conservation, is dedicated to preservation of both historic objects and the skills used to make them. From there, he sees it as his responsibility and passion to share, discuss, and shine a light on all things craft.

Luke schepers // Handcrafting of timber frames for Dioramas

Luke Schepers grew up on Bruny Island, Tasmania where he began his trade as a cabinet-maker/joiner. He practices and teaches carpentry at the Bower in Sydney and restores mid-century furniture at Juliette’s Balcony in Dulwich hill. He is exploring a variety of mediums in pursuit of his interest in art.

Maximilian Whelan-Young // Handcrafting of stained-glass window frame

Max is a Sydney based woodworker prioritising sustainability through using reclaimed and recycled materials and ensuring repairability. He says: “I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which I live and work, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation.”

Yasam Kizildag // Glassblowing of architectural elements

Yasam’s flamework journey started with soft glass 2 years ago by happy coincidence, while she was living in Turkey. She fell in love with glass. After 2 years she and her husband decided to move to Australia. She wanted to continue her flamework and started to work with borosilicate glass in Mark's studio. She started by making small beads with soft glass, however quickly moved to create larger objects with borosilicate. Yasam says borosilicate is a great challenge “I think there is nothing more enjoyable than the hours I spend on the torch.”.

Her interest in making glass buildings for marks artwork is influenced partly by memories of Turkish architecture but also by her work as an engineer designing infrastructure such as bridges.

Anna Fugelstad // Glass sculpting of miniature garden bushes

Coming from an artistic family Anna started glass blowing with borosilicate three years ago and fell in love. Currently she is focused on sculpting small animals, floral and botanical forms as well as miniature vessels.

Dion Cozic // Animation - filming and editing, graphic artwork, caliigraphy

Dion is a multidisciplinary visual artist and designer whose practices include painting, screen printing, stop motion animation and video manipulation among others. Dion began his studies at the Australian National University, with a combined double bachelor degree of Science and Fine Arts. He is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Design at the University of New South Wales, focusing specifically on the intersection of traditional art practices and technology.

Simi Eliott // Calligraphy, background painting, glass sprouts and social media

Growing up on Bondi Beach, Simi Eliott was exposed to and inspired by a world of art from a young age, introduced to her by father and Glassblower Mark Eliott. She has studied Environmental Science and management and has a deep passion for wildlife and conservation.
Through her studies and her exploration of different art mediums, including Glassblowing with her father, printmaking, and painting, simi is excited by the idea of combining her love for both art and science in life.

Image: Mark Eliott, Essence of Cloud Artifact Collection 2018. Photo: Mark Eliott