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BBC Start the Week – Made out of Glass

Our Honorary Member, Professor John M. Parker, recently took part in a BBC podcast about glass.

The history of glass-making dates back to at least 3,600 years ago in Mesopotamia, and both manufactured and naturally-occurring glass have been used in a wide variety of objects across the world. The curator and director of the Stained Glass Museum in Ely, Jasmine Allen, looks back at its long and varied history, highlighting its practical and artistic qualities.

In the last century or so its industrial heartlands in Britain have been in the Black Country and the north east of England. John Parker, Professor of Glass Science at the University of Sheffield and curator of the Turner Museum of Glass, is an expert on the history of glass in this region, and the impact of mechanisation at the end of the 1800s.

A new exhibition, The Glass Heart, at Two Temple Place in London (until 21st April) showcases industrial glassmaking as well as contemporary artworks. The artist and glassblower Ayako Tani finds inspiration in traditional calligraphy for her glass art, as well as the more recent development of glass ships in bottles from the 1970s.

Glass can be moulded into all shapes and sizes and developed with different strengths, but the materials scientist Professor Claire Corkhill from the University of Bristol says it’s still quite a difficult and mysterious material. Her research is looking into innovative ways to use glass, and exploring whether it could even be the answer to the growing dilemma of managing Britain’s radioactive waste.

Released On: 29 Jan 2024
Available for over a year

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