There’s a rare chance to see and buy new, original art works by leading Swedish glass artist Kjell Engman in May and June when he has his first significant solo show in the UK.
73-year-old Engman, whose most well-known work is probably the Eurovision Song Contest Trophy, began designing for leading glass brand Kosta Boda in 1978. He soon established a reputation as one of the country’s most outstanding artists working in glass. His art works are collected world-wide and he has increasingly worked to commission. He has created installations in banks, schools, churches, concert halls and universities, and designed the stunning glass bar in Kosta Boda’s Art Hotel in Småland, Sweden.
His style is distinctive and immediately recognisable. It is bold, bright and colourful, ranging from the playful to the delicate to the sensuous. It could almost be described as Dali-esque and does not conform to our preconceptions of simple, minimalist Swedish design.
Engman is an exuberant character with a real lust for life. He’s played in bands, rides a Harley Davidson and enjoys hunting. Music and the natural world are key influences on his work. He says, ‘I like to make glass you can feel, glass that appeals to all of our senses and tries to make use of refraction and light. I want to paint pictures and tell stories all at the same time.’
In 2008 Engman was commissioned to design the Eurovision Song Contest trophy, still in use today. Made from solid transparent glass in the style of a classic microphone, the trophy is remade each year with the name of the host city. A second ‘back-up’ trophy is also made and stored in a vault, just in case anything happens to the first one! The exhibition opens on the same day that the 2019 Eurovision final takes place.
Kjell Engman was born in 1946 in Stockholm and studied at Konstfack in Stockholm (Sweden’s largest college of arts, crafts and design) and Pilchuck glass school in Stanwood, Washington, USA. In recent years he has survived three heart attacks yet still retains his energy and dynamism, continuing to work in his studio at Kosta Boda’s glassworks in Småland.
Kjell Engman: Journey of Dreams takes place at Gallery in The Lanes, Norwich from 18 May to 28 June. It will be complemented by other Kosta Boda art glass and limited-edition production pieces. Together they will create one of the biggest displays of the iconic Swedish brand’s glassware seen in the UK. Prices for Engman’s work range from £2,500 to £10,000.
Sculptural glass art work can provide a beautiful focal point to an interior. Hand-blown glass is an ancient art form that requires great skill and creativity on the part of the artist. It’s also becoming increasingly collectible. Perhaps the most well know collector is Sir Elton John. In an interview with The Guardian in November 2016 he said, ‘I’m a huge collector of glass – I love it and feel it’s the last great underrated area of creativity’.
Kjell Engman: Journey of Dreams
Gallery in the Lanes, Bedford Street, Norwich
18 May - 28 June 2019
Open Monday-Saturday 9.30am-5.30pm, Sunday 11am-4pm
Gallery in the Lanes in Norwich is part of parent company Riverside Art and Glass Ltd which was established in 2012. The company is a leading player in the county’s arts and culture sector. Gallery in the Lanes shows a wide range of art from local, national and international artists, specialising in glass but also exhibiting paintings, prints, ceramics, wood, jewellery and furniture.
Kjell Engman was born in 1946 in Stockholm and studied at Konstfack in Stockholm (Sweden’s largest college of arts, crafts and design) and Pilchuck glass school in Stanwood, Washington, USA. He was a professional musician in the 1970s and his love of music is reflected in much of his work – guitars feature frequently. His public artworks usually include elements of light and sound that animate his glass work.
Kosta Boda, founded in 1742, is Sweden’s oldest working glassworks. They are based in the Kingdom of Crystal, in the heart of the forests in the Swedish province of Småland. Fusing technology and a specialist understanding of glass, their glassware is vibrant, bold, innovative and provocative. It is admired and treasured by people all over the world.
The Kosta Boda Art Hotel is an award-winning hotel that showcases the contemporary and cutting-edge glass work of their team of designers. Kjell Engman designed the stunning blue bar.