Castlecliff artwork blessing and celebration

Everyone is welcome to attend a blessing and celebration for an engraved glass artwork, created by Castlecliff artist Claire Bell, which is being installed in the walls of a bus shelter in Castlecliff in March.

Bus shelters are a collaboration between Horizons Regional Council and Whanganui District Council. Horizons advises on location and funds installation, while Whanganui District Council funds ongoing maintenance.

Horizons Transport Manager, Phil Hindrup, says the idea of having an artwork on the glass bus shelter arose when ways of reducing potential vandalism were being explored.

“Glass bus shelters have been taken up nationwide as they offer good visibility and safety. We decided to incorporate Claire’s spectacular artwork into the bus shelter to trial whether this will have a positive effect in terms of vandalism,” Mr Hindrup says.

The glass artwork features local plant and insect life such as spinifex, toetoe, convolvulus hawk moth and katipō, inspired by the Castlecliff sand dunes.

During the creation process, Claire Bell has opened her studio to the public and given school students the opportunity to learn about her techniques.

Aranui School Teacher, Annie Ash, said, “When a group of our students visited the studio they were very curious about Claire’s techniques and full of questions.

“Claire created a worksheet for us so the students could extend their learning back in the classroom by trying out her design technique of drawing on black paper with white chalk.”

Claire Bell’s technique of mural engraving on glass was pioneered by artist John Hutton whose glass mural on the Great West Screen of Coventry Cathedral was completed in 1962.

She first encountered John Hutton’s engraved glass murals at around eleven years old when she was helping her father clear out a basement and saw panels depicting the goddesses of agriculture.

“I didn’t know what the glass panels were or who had created them but I thought they were cool.”

Claire Bell’s father tried to arrange to buy the panels but when he came to remove them they were gone.

After studying at Elam School of Fine Arts Claire Bell learnt about John Hutton’s techniques “in a very special way – when I was in the UK I managed to get introduced to someone who had learnt directly off him and who happened to live in the same village as my family,” Claire Bell says.

Later, Claire Bell met John Hutton’s widow, Marigold, and when Claire visited Marigold’s home she saw the goddesses of agriculture panels, which she recognised from when she was a child.

But the coincidences don’t end there. “Now, just by accident, I live in Whanganui where John was originally from”, Claire Bell says.

The blessing and celebration for the glass artwork will be held on Saturday, 28 March at 4.00pm at the bus shelter outside the Rangiora Street Library in Castlecliff.

If you would like to visit Claire Bell’s studio call 06 390 8016 to arrange a visit on a Friday or Saturday between 10.00am-3.00pm.