Through the looking glass

THE JUXTAPOSITION of the physical labour of glass blowing and the resulting beauty of the finished piece is what fascinates Harriet Schwarzrock about her material of choice.

Harriet, along with their husband and fellow glass artist Matthew Curtis, produce world renowned glass works out of their backyard studio based in Queanbeyan.

The 39-year-old said she still enjoys the glass blowing process even though it's a practice she's been immersed in for many years.

"With the glass blowing, the thing that attracts me to it is the fluidity of the material. I draw heavily upon the references towards water and that sort of graceful movement. I like to use the way the material works in the pieces that I create," Harriet said.

"The process of glass blowing...I think it's quite magical and I still find it quite fascinating to watch.

"It's quite nice to be involved in something that still seems exciting even though some days it can feel like you're working in your very own factory."

The pair were recently invited to contribute pieces to 'The Tree' exhibition currently showing at the Canberra Glassworks. It also features works by local artists including Erin Conron, Mel George and Kirstie Rea.

Harriet's piece titled 'breathe' is a reflection on the movement and breath involved in her yoga practice.

"I like that [this piece] is a little bit ambiguous and it might not be immediately obvious that it spells the word 'breathe'," she said.

"It's been quite refreshing to be part of this exhibition. I've enjoyed the process of creating the piece. It's allowed me to step outside of what I do regularly into something a little more playful."

It's been more than a decade since Harriet and Matthew first arrived in Queanbeyan. The opportunity to set up a studio literally in their backyard was too good to pass up.

The warehouse is out the back and the home is at the front creating a space where they live, work, play and bring up their two boys Oscar, 13 and Hugo, 10. The arrangement is a "mixed blessing," Harriet said.

"There are times when it feels like neither work nor home is ever finished. You can always see the next task that has to happen," she said.

For those intrigued by the set-up, every once in a while the artists will throw open their studio doors and allow curious community members a peek into their work space. The studio regularly appears as part of the Queanbeyan Arts Trail.

"It's a mutually beneficial experience," Harriet said.

"It gives people more breath into what's happening in their backyard. I guess people find it quite interesting how studios are set up and how different professionals live. It a really wonderful way to meet different people and to show people what we do."

As much as the family have embraced Queanbeyan; so too has Queanbeyan embraced the two artists. They were both included in the Queanbeyan City Council Cultural Honours Gallery last year.

"It was a surprising thrill and quite an honour," Harriet said.

"I think there are a lot of practising artists and people who aren't in that Cultural Honours Gallery at the moment that I really look up to, so I was really surprised in a way [to be included]. It's a lovely thing to be a part of ... and a fantastic initiative to bring to the community."

Harriet Schwarzrock's work 'breathe' can be viewed at the Canberra Glassworks until May 8.

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