Our second featured maker is Henry Amos of Glass Arc, Tynemouth.
Henry is a qualified architect and his work encompasses both the disciplines of architecture and glass. Skilfully blending two very distinct yet complimentary fields, he describes the theme behind his practice as ‘innovation and architecture, experimenting and exploring the parameters of glass on structural and visual level.”
Henry’s interest in the use of glass emerged 5-6 years ago as a hobby, working primarily with cold-worked glass, where he found fascination in the possibilities of the material and the potential for the manipulation on light within 3-dimensional structures.
“Ten years ago architectural glass in the architecture industry was very different to what one would describe as ‘architectural glass’ in the glass world,” he says. “Glass within architecture was formal, whereas in the art glass industry was more about personal expression.”
Henry’s interest lay in challenging perceptions in both – bringing artistic expression and architecture together. A recurring theme behind his work is ‘blended and intertwined’.
Applying these innovative ideas to his architectural practice, initially he explored the function of windows to exploit transparency and natural light within his own and other people’s buildings; increasing the thickness using many layers and “penetrating buildings with glass”.
As a result of these initial projects Henry felt he needed some formal education in his glass practice and began a part time MA in Glass at the University of Sunderland, which allowed for exploration of the technical aspects of glass.
“Commercial architecture in many forms relegates the design element down towards the bottom of the scale.” Henry continues, “My work is about bringing the emphasis on the importance of the design element back near the top.”
Henry describes the work of Glass Arc as constantly experimental, exploring transparency, translucency, light, space, and challenging structural concepts. A recent public project , ‘Metromorphosis’, an interactive glass bridge 28 metres long in Tynemouth Metro station, took these ideas to a new level. The challenge was that the bridge only worked when completed: “We had to innovate very fast during the building of the piece to achieve what we wanted both visually and conceptually.”
In his current work, Henry finds inspiration in the interactive elements of 3D structures, how things can change depending on how they are observed. A new development in Henry’s work is the use of fibre optics – using light to augment and change structures. A commission in progress is an ‘Interactive Light/ Sound Post’, using sound, light and glass, and based on the concepts of life, death and regeneration for integration into a Sensory Garden and quayside walkway in Blythe.
Henry enjoys the less structured, ‘fluid’ project development role that his glasswork affords him, particularly in the social and collaborative aspects of working with the public. His methodology is not to be the ‘big architect or designer’ hidden away in an office. “It’s about what other people can put in as well”. Indeed Glass Arc’s quirky new location in Tynemouth was an experiment, chosen to give the studio a public face, extending —- to its open door policy. In project terms, the Studio works through gathering the skills needed for any one project from inception to completion: similar to an atelier system.
Henry sums up his own approach to life and work: “My aims in project terms and my life are very similar: To treat and be treated with fairness and respect. As the Spanish say: Todo, pero con manera. My interests in materials and construction, my interests in geology and social networks, my interests in permaculture and urban dwelling have increasingly come together in my work and thought.
Development projects are an opportunity for strong creativity using appropriate technology and materials, within buildings and enclosures that are orientated about experience and challenge: a vehicle to explore innovative perception.”
The Spanish translates: Everything, but with civility
(…And if you were wondering why Henry is upside down in the photo above, it’s taken of his reflection in a rigged, mirrored ceiling in Glass Arc’s studio – yet another experiment!)