Author Archives: melhowse

The Creative Dimension

The Creative Dimension has well and truly launched this year with five summer workshops for teenagers 14-18yrs, with an eye on learning hands-on creative skills. Taught by professional artists and craftsman, the courses will offer the chance to experience the mediums of gilding, marquetry, mural painting, stone working and woodwork.

At art college my vision of a creative career was shaped by the positive experience of learning skills from artists who were out there, earning a living in the real world. This is a wonderful opportunity.

Be inspired. Go here to see what The Creative Dimension is doing:


Award for Friese Greene House ‘Development in Hove scoops CIH Award’

We were elated to hear this month that the scheme we worked on in Hove,
Friese Greene House, has been awarded Development Of The Year at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s South East Awards.

It was a pleasure to produce art that faces into the community as part of Affinity Sutton’s forward thinking scheme, alongside Conran and Partners thoughtfully designed building.

You can read more at the link below.

Portland Road Hove UK

Portland Road Hove UK

“A la recherché de la lumiere du monde: Auf der Suche nach dem Licht der Welt: In Search of the Light of the World”

The Centre International du Vitrail in Chartres France will open its doors to the ‘International Panorama of Contemporary Glass-Art’ on 23rd April 2016.

On show there will be 300 art glass contributions from around the world. The exhibition is in collaboration with Glasmalerei Peters of Paderborn, Germany.

I contributed my design to this prestigious collection in 1998, and the studio at Paderborn produced the glasswork.

I look forward to the display of this piece ‘Ohne Titel’.

"Ohne Titel" stained glass panel designed and made for the exhibition "In Search of the Light of the World"

“Ohne Titel” stained glass panel designed and made for the exhibition “In Search of the Light of the World”

If you are a stained glass or decorative glass enthusiast don’t miss the opportunity to see this important collection together in one place.

The exhibition will be on display until the Spring of 2017.


Monochromatic Melodies

So often glass art is forming an important link between old and new; modern and ancient architecture, old and new ideas, contemporary and traditional decoration. My latest project is a link between all of these.

The suspended artwork for St Michael’s Church, set within the idyllic surrey village of Betchworth, will complete the newly re-ordered vestry.

Large glazing panels will grace a void between a bespoke oak folding screen, and the majestic roof beams overhead.

St Michael's Church Betchworth

St Michael’s Church Betchworth

The art which is in progress at present focuses on the theme of St Michael. It will reside in the musical hub of the church, adjacent to a beautiful new organ case. The glass art will be complete with its own choir of trumpets, in an etched, polished, semi-abstract, and monochromatic design.

If Turner had had a spraygun – he would have used it!

A surge in the use of the word ‘craft’ has caused creatives to look hard at the core ‘hands-on’ aspects of their trades.   The term has overtones of looking backwards, espousing heritage techniques as hallowed foundations to our craft.  But not necessarily!

Crossing technical boundaries has long been important to me because the locations of my commissions range from the most modern of buildings to the most ancient of structures.


Blending is the key, blending ideas old and new.  Not thinking it’s a matter of Traditional -v- Contemporary.  Embellishing the qualities of the traditional with the opportunities of the contemporary keeps a designer/maker able to change as architecture has changed.

Good contemporary artists – of any era – use all available resources to create their work.  In the tradition of the designer I focus on the vision of the installed design, but in the mould of tomorrow’s maker I will use any and all opportunities available for creating my designs. Taking full opportunity and full advantage of all creative approaches – traditional and contemporary.

For example, in my enamelled façade for J Sainsbury’s I used buckets of silver nitrate stain and applied it with a spray gun.  Silver nitrate is a material traditionally used in stained glass, and it used by the thimble-full.  Rather I took the irreplaceable qualities of silver nitrate, and applied those qualities using a modern toolset.  Today I ran my enamel samples through a toughening plant, rather than the usual sample kiln, because the pieces I am working on will be fired at large scale and the toughener gives rise to a need for a different approach.

Keeping our traditional ‘craft’ techniques going is important, as it’s a solid foundation for the future.  But I argue that it is even more important to keep them relevant to our time, to ensure the survival of our arts as the world changes around us.

In the Thick of It

My work throughout the last decade has centred on scaling-up the art I create in my chosen medium of glass and allied materials.  I have always treasured the benefits of being a designer and maker, and it has been a challenge to remain hands-on when the physical size of commissions increase.

Since 2009 I’ve been entirely UK-based, in a specialist glass engineering environment that has allowed me to explore the wider possibilities for art and glass, and art in architecture.  I use as my daily tools the very equipment used to meet modern-day building regulations.  I use them on the large-scale and when intermixed with creative applied techniques, they give rise to thrilling new combinations.


Designing, making and installing art is a lengthy and complex business.  Maintaining artistic inspiration and purpose is harder still when a work is scaled-up.  Staying hands-on throughout the project, from its concept to its delivery, maintaining the artist’s eye and seeing that every step feeds into your vision for the piece, provides the best opportunity to sustain the work’s integrity and quality.

Despite the challenges, my experience is that if you change your environment and your tools, it will open your mind to new perspectives, and new ways of designing and creating.  Whilst it takes courage to step away from well-trodden paths, it’s worth the investment if you’ve the stamina.

My work right now is the result of personal study and extensive practical research at the coalface of the decorative glass industry, from which I’ve created new techniques and new processes that will pay dividends in future works. I’m afraid I crave invention like other people crave chocolate!