Tilden’s fascination for glass was piqued at an early age. The granddaughter and daughter of BHP Port Kembla steel workers, Tilden fondly remembers the humorous family expression ‘your father is a steel maker not a glass maker’, used to move any family member who stood in front of the television for too long. For the young Tilden, this saying posed a question: ‘How is glass made?’
Completing school, Tilden made her way to Sydney College of the Arts to pursue glass blowing; however as she progressed in her studies, she became more rapt with the art of jewellery making. Jewellery provided her with the chance to combine an array of materials in innovative ways, and to develop her skills. Combining her dual passions, she moved to Canberra to study at the Canberra School of Art where, in 1992, she graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Glass) and in 1995 with a Graduate Diploma in Gold and Silversmithing.
Tilden’s desire to understand how things work and her interest in the interface between the handmade and the machine-made have always been driving forces in her practice. Her recent body of work has looked to architecture for inspiration, in particular the great exhibition buildings of the 19th century (The Crystal Palace, 1851, and The Palais des Machines, 1889). Superbly utilising glass in their design, these buildings emphasised German architect Bruno Taut’s statement that glass was the quintessential material for the modern world, due to its capacity to hold and disperse light.