As a busy mum-of-four, Amanda Charles always regretted never going to university and turning her artistic talents into a career.
But a few years ago, her husband Michael, along with their now older children, encouraged Amanda to take up a place at the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, and study ceramics and glass.
The course proved a turning point for the emerging artist.
“You’re never too old to go for it,” proclaims Amanda, 53, who this week unveiled her first solo show at The Radlett Centre, and whose work has been selected to appear at the prestigious British Glass Biennale 2017.
Amanda, who attends Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue with her family, decided to focus her talents on glass, because it is “amazingly versatile”.
“I’m obsessed,” she enthuses. “I’ve always collected glass ornaments and paperweights and found myself captivated with the beauty and methodology behind it. I wanted to learn it myself.”
Working from her home studio, Amanda begins each piece by thinking about the design she wants to create and then cuts large sheets of glass by hand into the correct shape.
The design is then placed into the kiln for firing, with the temperature and length of time producing different effects.
Higher temperatures result in more glass flow, while lower temperatures produce greater definition between different glasses and can be used to slump or bend the glass into a different shape.
Each piece can be fired between two and six times, depending on the complexity of the design.
“It can be a very precise, complicated process,” explains Amanda. “Some pieces take weeks to perfect.”
Her work is contemporary and abstract, and often features colourful geometric patterns with multiple layers.
“I love trying different styles,” she says animatedly. “I create jewellery, centrepieces, or whatever else I am inspired to do, but my main passion is wall art, which changes with different lighting and seasons.
“Glass is an amazingly versatile medium to work with. I can carve it, engrave it, do a sculptural piece, or a flat piece on the wall.”
The results of her efforts can now been seen at her first solo exhibition, which runs throughout August, and features a selection of her wall-mounted glass sculptures and jewellery.
Meanwhile her piece, Just A Sliver Please – Chromatic will be shown at the British Glass Biennale 2017, a national exhibition of 63 contemporary glass artists, which awards £100,000 worth of prizes each year.
“It was an incredible surprise,” adds Amanda. “I’m delighted my work will be shown with amazing artists who have been in the business for many years.”
- The exhibition runs until 31 August at The Ground Floor Gallery, The Radlett Centre, Aldenham Avenue, Radlett. For more details and commissions, visit amandacharlesglass.com, or call 07973 500 008.