Digswell Arts fellow Muna Zuberi based in The Fenners is our featured artist of the month.
How would you describe your current practice (eg materials, techniques, themes, key questions, approach)?
I am primarily a glass artist working mainly in glass applique (or mosaic) using fused and painted glass elements within my work. Drawing is also very important to me and my work always starts with drawing. I also make pen and ink drawings occasionally, that sometimes develop into glass pieces or stand as works in themselves.
My practice concerns how people think and develop their opinions and attitudes. I have a mixed heritage background and a lot of my work is concerned with attitudes to race. I like using empirical data as a starting point for my work and different ways of illustrating data like diagrams and charts.
What are you working on at the moment (forthcoming exhibitions, events, workshops, etc)?
I am working on a body of work inspired by the BLM movement, which is looking at themes that explore how people feel able to treat black people differently. I am always looking to understand why people behave the way they do and to illustrate thought and emotion. I hope to exhibit this work in 2021, Covid-permitting.
I am also working on a number of private commissions including a large stained glass scheme for a house in Hertford and have had a piece selected for the Letchworth Open 2020 Exhibition.
What are your plans for the coming year?
This year it has been very difficult to make plans but I am currently undertaking a public art project in Welwyn Garden City which is about the pandemic. It is based around my drawing ‘Hive’ which shows imagined households in lockdown. Participants will draw their own lockdown experiences which will then be used to create a community artwork. Further information about the project can be found here: https://www.howardcentre.co.uk/community/hive/
What is the question that you most get asked about your work?
How did you learn? I think the processes around glass manipulation are a bit of a mystery to a lot of people so I get a lot of questions about process and technique. Second most-asked question is ‘Do you do lessons?!’ I have taught in the past so post-pandemic (whenever that may be!), I’d like to set up some classes.
Which artists do you most admire and why?
My interest in glass developed after I saw the stained glass in Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. It was designed by John Piper and made by Patrick Reyntiens and really ignited my passion for modern architectural glass (view a fabulous Goldmark film on the making of the windows). My applique work is heavily inspired by dalle-de-verre – a technique popular in the 1950s and 1960s where glass chunks are set in concrete to form windows. I love the naive style of the work by Dom Charles Norris of Buckfast Abbey and his work can be seen locally in Marychurch, Batterdale Old Hatfield. You can view images here: https://hertfordshirechurches.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/marychurch-hatfield-roman-catholic/
I have also discovered the work of ex-soviet bloc glass artists – in particular, Lithuanian artists Kazimieras Morkunas http://sputnikimages.com/hier_rubric/photo/576260.html and Steponas Kazimieraitis https://www.joniskis.rvb.lt/news/1021/79/KAZIMIERAITIS-STEPONAS/d,zmones/ – (unfortunately they are not well known and there aren’t many images online). I absolutely love the monumental nature of their work.
Contemporary artists I admire include the beautiful cast pieces by Nina Casson McGarva; the colourful yet sophisticated hot glass work by Tim Rawlinson and the amazingly skilful storytelling works by Judith Schaechter.
How has your relationship with Digswell Arts strengthened your practice as an artist?
My association with Digswell Arts has been a great inspiration and motivating force for my practice. It has re-energised me and given me a boost just by association. I love being in a community of like-minded individuals and the facilities provided by the Trust to the Fellows are second-to-none.