Reflecting on

life and glass

Katie Brown Lighting - About Katie

Change is in the air for New Zealand glass artist Katie Brown.   Just back from a glass-blowing conference in Corning, New York  City and a week’s break in Western  Massachusetts visiting her mentor,  Josh Simpson, Katie is now home in Whanganui focusing on the imminent arrival of her first child.

“I’m 40 now so it will probably be just the one” says the glassblower who, along with her business partner Lindsay Patterson, has spent the last 10years establishing the Chronicle Glass Studio and a solid reputation as a glass artist and lighting specialist, both here and overseas.


“You’ve got to come up with your own thing,” reflects Katie.

While working with Josh in her early 20s, Katie learnt the business side of glass production, and then English glass artist Neil Wilkin taught her the inspirational power of nature, but it was the technical complexity and fluidity of glass blowing itself which Katie has sought to capture in her work.

“I really enjoyed making shapes that show the movement in glass, but also have some sort of symmetry to them. I’d make a straight vase but put trails all over it, or something just to say, “hey look this is glass!".



passion

As a glass maker you’re trying to find your own way, and at the same time you are governed by the fact that you have to sell it. If it doesn't, then it’s back to the drawing board. Lighting has become Katie's passion. “My dream is just to do lighting. Working with architects and New Zealand designers is really what I enjoy most.

“People build these lovely homes, and the last thing they put in is the lighting. It always looks amazing.”

With a large and ever growing range from bubble waterfall to stalagmite chandeliers, Katie is involved in every aspect of a lighting project. She enjoys doing her own wiring which is then signed off by an electrician. Her lights can be found transforming homes and restaurants throughout New Zealand and abroad. The arrival of Katie's baby coincides with the sale of Chronicle Glass Studio, her creative base for the last decade. After 25 years, during which time Katie was one of its graduates, the Whanganui UCOL (The Universal College of Learning) Glass Design School is finally closing, so to ensure continuity of this significant local industry and tourist attraction, the City Council has bought the Chronicle Glass Studio business, and will continue to offer it for hire to local artists. UCOL will be the educational provider with courses and workshops from local and international glass artists. The facility will be further developed as a tourist attraction. An investor has bought the 1912 building, in the historic heart of Whanganui, and is in the process of upgrading it. “It’s about saving this ancient glass blowing which people love to watch, and is a point of difference for Whanganui. The council has already invested a lot over the years so this is a way of maximising their investment and keep it going.”

Katie will still blow glass in the new facility but has established her own gallery across the road, called Cosmopolitan Glass. Somehow atie’s baby seems to slip perfectly into a grand design. “Whanganui is a very affordable place for a studio. It’s for an artist. So it’s been a great place to set up my business.” Now with her “Katie Brown” website well established, she is happy to be going it alone. As parenthood looms Katie admits she is very close to her own mother. “She has been a tower of strength to me. She is an artist as well, and has always said ‘keep going, follow your heart.’ I was lucky to have the support. I’m going to be that kind of mother.”

Katie Brown Lighting - About Katie