Mel Douglas’s reductively meditative works embody an unnerving quiet beauty. Suggesting light, space and time, her restrained colour palette and minimalist line enables her to reveal the elemental nature of glass. Sustaining her practice for over 15 years, her rigorous investigation of line, form, proportion and negative space has seen her produce a rich and considered body of work, and she is recognised nationally and internationally as a leading contemporary glass artist.
Douglas works the surfaces of her blown glass with a hand-held engraver. Meticulously, she slowly builds layers of finely calibrated lines on the surface. Her line work traces, or acts counter to the form, exaggerating its proportions and increasing the tension within the work. Transforming the high-gloss black into a grey scale, her forms challenge our perceptions about its materiality. Though these lines could be produced using more mechanical processes, the layering of slight imperfections is important feature to Douglas, as they evidence the artist’s hand.
Douglas’s works are not only the product of hours of precise hand-engraving, they are also the final distillation of many months of preparatory drawings and maquette making. She obsessively produces journals full of drawings, ideas and inspirational images, which allow Douglas to explore form, scale, line and proportion. She often draws something over and over, to review the many possible configurations of angle and line coverage. The varying suggestions dramatically impact the sense of calm or stillness in a piece.
In 2002, Douglas won the prestigious Ranamok Glass Prize, in 2007 the LinoTagliapietra Prize of Young Glass at the Glasmuseet Ebeltoft in Denmark, and in 2014 she won the Art Gallery of Western Australia’s Tom Malone Prize.