Creative Encounters: Ruth Shelley

Creative Encounters: Ruth Shelley

Some people just ‘get’ colour and Ruth Shelley is definitely one of them.  It was her exquisite juxtaposition of orange and purple - two of my favourite colours  - that first caught my eye back in 2013. So as we celebrate our 10th anniversary with a series of Creative Encounters, I’m delighted to feature Ruth, one the Byre Gallery’s longest standing and much loved makers.

Glass artist Ruth Shelley in her studio with large coloured glass vessel

After I first spotted the image of Ruth’s work in an advert for the annual Contemporary Craft Fair at Bovey Tracey I immediately pinged off an email to her to introduce myself. At this point the Byre Gallery was still a building site and my only credentials were photographs of previous exhibitions I’d curated (this was before Insta was the vault of info and images it is now) and the promise that I really was opening a gallery.

Ruth nonetheless invited me up to Cardiff to meet her and see her work in person which we did at the wonderful Craft in the Bay and at then her home studio. I was mesmerised by how she transformed what looked like a glass jigsaw into such stunning vessels. Her newer pieces used more opaque glass in the design and made the colours sing even more, it was evident she was drawing on her background in textile design in the placing of her colours; I loved it all.

In 2015 Ruth was awarded the prestigious Glass Sellers’ Award at the British Glass Biennale and was not surprisingly hugely sought after by all the leading contemporary glass galleries in the UK and overseas so I’m thrilled and very touched that she’s remained loyal to the Byre and shows with us every year.

We have a new collection from Ruth in our June exhibition ‘The View From Here’ which features work - applied and visual art - inspired by views of the Rame Peninsula, which I’m also delighted to say that the very well traveled Ruth has also visited on several occasions - often en route in her camper van to glamorous sources of inspiration.

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