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International artist exhibits largest ever glass installation at UCA Farnham

Internationally renowned artist Professor Magdalene Odundo OBE (who taught at UCA for over 15 years) is exhibiting her largest artwork to date, Transition II – a glass installation of over 1,000 individually handmade vessels – in the James Hockey Gallery at our Farnham campus from Friday 19 February.

The Kenyan-born artist has work exhibited in collections all over the world, including the British Museum and the V&A Museum. Originally inspired by water and the flow of the Nile in particular, Transition II has 1,001 glass vessels suspended from the ceiling as a wave. In this unique installation, flight is the central concept.

Magdalene Odundo glasswork exhibition story

Magdalene is one of Britain’s leading artists working in ceramics, but has chosen to explore glass for this project. It was originally presented at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, which assisted her in creating the largest multi-piece work of her career. “Ceramics is what I’m most familiar with but I have worked with a range of different materials,” said Magdalene. “This installation continues to increase my passion for making art and my engagement with objects in particular.”

This work continues her research into the human condition and rites of passage evidenced in anthropology and archaeology. Magdalene has been interested in how traditional cultures explore rites of passage and how adornment plays an important role in life and death. The glass vessels in Transition II were initially inspired by ancient Egyptian ear-studs made from clay and glass found in Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.

We have awarded Magdalene an emerita professorship for her work as a world-renowned artist, her longstanding career with us and her vital contribution to crafts education. Magdalene was a student at UCA in the 1970s, and has since taught in art colleges worldwide, before returning to Farnham to teach and continue her practice in the late 1990s. “Farnham had an attraction to me as a student, so it's no surprise that it's become my base and I've made it my home,” said Magdalene.

Magdalene Odundo at glasswork exhibition Farnham

“We are extremely pleased to be recognising Magdalene’s contribution to the University and her worldwide success and importance as an artist and a teacher through an emerita professorship,” said Professor Simon Ofield-Kerr, UCA's Vice-Chancellor. “As an international artist, Magdalene’s expertise has inspired so many students at UCA over the years and we’re extremely proud to host her impressive Transition II piece in our gallery.”

Watch Magdalene's exhibition being constructed in our James Hockey Gallery here:

Magdalene was supported in this project by architectural designer Patricia Mato-Mora, who worked with Magdalene and a structural engineer to design the structure of the exhibition.

At our Farnham campus we offer a BA (Hons) in Glass, Ceramics, Jewellery, Metalwork which you can find out more about here.