Born and raised in Tasmania, Mel Douglas earned her B.F.A. at the Australian National University’s School of Art in Canberra in 2000. Douglas is known for her reduced monochromatic vessels and panels that are decorated with simple, engraved lines. Using a basic palette of white and black glass, her subtle marks are reminiscent of patterns in landscape. Her works reference things found in nature, such as smooth rocks and acorns, and they recall the simple and minimal forms of mid-20th-century Italian glass design.
“The simplicity of my work suggests stillness and silence, a meditation on the elements; concepts of light, space and time; and the way that light shapes our environment,” Douglas says. “The changes that occur within the landscape with the fading light have inspired me: the quiet shadows that appear with the last light of day; and the shimmer of fading light across a body of water. . . . The engraved lines on the exterior surface create texture and contrast. Texture articulates the notion of time, reinforced by the empty spaces on the surfaces.”
Her most recent work, inspired by a residency in Scotland, incorporates elements of the ancient landscape and stone structures of the northern Highlands, ranging from mortarless, dry stone bridges to Neolithic-period cairns. Douglas was intrigued by “the meticulous and unforgiving way each stone was held into place by the next, and the way the harsh environment aged these structures.”
The surfaces of Douglas’s vessels are ground back, sandblasted, and sanded with wet and dry paper, removing the natural shine of the glass and creating a contrast between the engraved line and the glass surface. Each mark is individually made by the artist, using a power engraving tool.