Ruth Allen showcases recycled glass at its best

When two creative people meet, marry and have a child, what is the likelihood of that child being creative too?  In Ruth Allen’s case it appears the family DNA runs strong.  Growing up in New Zealand, her father was a sculptor and installation artist who later became the Dean of Sydney College of Arts.   And her mother is someone many parents with young children would know well.  She is internationally acclaimed children’s book author and illustrator, Pamela Allen. Whether it’s nature or nurture, growing up in this artist family certainly rubbed off as Ruth is now an accomplished multi media artist. Her strands of work include artwork, cultural development and working with glassware but it is this latter medium that is currently under the spotlight.

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Launched at the Den Fair last month, was Ruth Allen’s range of glass chandeliers.   Looking sultry in black, delicate and flirtatious in white, and cosmopolitan in a mix colours the chandeliers are far removed from their original form of used bottles of liquor.  Made for both the residential and commercial markets, Ruth shares she first started upcycling old bottles when she was looking for a creative process that also raised awareness about sustainability. She began upcycling favourite beer bottles into drinking glasses, carafe sets and jewellery pieces. She collected used bottles from friends, neighbours and local businesses. “I wanted to turn them into something you could live with again. Not simply tossed away“.  It is these sustainable beginnings that has led Ruth to further perfect her craft, showcasing just how far her talent extends.

Ruth’s path to becoming an accomplished designer has been firmly grounded in her various studies, the studio she co-directed and various exhibitions she has taken part in. Ruth considers herself fortunate to have studied at the Canberra School of Art at the Australian National University in the early 1990’s. Studying under influential artists including Klaus Moje, Elizabeth McLure and Stephen Proctor she says there were just 4 students in each year completing their 4 year degree.  In addition to the attentive tuition they received, she said having unfettered access to all the equipment at hand without having to wait in line with others enabled them to perfect their skills.

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Since graduating in 2003, Ruth’s work has taken her all over the world and back home again. Initially taking time off to travel, she went on to co-direct a hot glass studio in Auckland for 4 years where she both made and taught the various disciplines art of glass craft. She later returned to Australia to complete her Masters of Fine Arts at Monash University during which time she created an extensive body of work, undertook contract jobs and won a scholarship to hold a solo exhibition in New York.

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Ruth now works out of her studio in Coburg North, which she set up with her partner in 2010. Together they transformed a derelict warehouse at the rear of their home into a creative work hub, splitting the studio in two to cater for their different artistic endeavours. Within the space they have created areas for working with metal, ceramics, glass work, grinding, welding and cutting.  It is an inspiring space that certainly appears to be paying off .  Ruth says over the next twelve months she relishes the opportunity to install her work in homes and local businesses, and take on commission work.  She also hopes to expand her reach into overseas markets, sharing her dream job would be to fly to a location, and transform a countries local used bottles into a fabulous installation.  In the meantime, she welcomes anyone to drop by their old used spirit bottles at her studio for her use- be it Galliano, Sambucca, Bombay Gin or Cointreau. In fact she is happy to work with all sorts – Do get in contact and let her know what you have!

++ RUTH ALLEN ++

Coburg, Melbourne

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