Announcing the 2021 Guildhouse Fellow: Liam Fleming

Guildhouse, the Art Gallery of South Australia and the James & Diana Ramsay Foundation are delighted to announce South Australian glassblower, artist and designer Liam Fleming as the 2021 Guildhouse Fellow.

The Guildhouse Fellowship, valued at over $50,000, was inaugurated in 2019 with the generous support of South Australian philanthropists, The James & Diana Ramsay Foundation, to recognise and elevate South Australian artistic ambition. The annual fellowship offers a transformative opportunity for one mid-career South Australian visual artist each year, awarding funding to support research and development, including the creation of new work, and a presentation outcome at AGSA.

2021 Fellow Liam Fleming is recognised for his unique sculptural objects which playfully test the constraints of glassblowing. Using a kiln to perform ‘controlled demolition’ of his work, he explores the complicated relationship between craft, art, design and architecture. A graduate of the prestigious JamFactory Associate program, Fleming is a finalist in AGSA’s 2021 Ramsay Art Prize and has exhibited extensively including at Melbourne Design Week and, internationally, at London Design Week, Milan Design Week and in Berlin for Australia Now.

The Guildhouse Fellowship is really coming at a critical moment for me, when I’ve invested a great deal of energy into taking my work in new directions…I feel a shift occurring. Such belief and encouragement will afford me time and space to refine my practice and focus my energy entirely on making. The James & Diana Ramsay Foundation open up a spectrum of opportunities that are profoundly important for and deeply valued by artists.

Liam Fleming

2021 Guildhouse Fellow

The selection panel for the 2021 Guildhouse Fellowship, comprised by AGSA Assistant Director, Artistic Programs Dr Lisa Slade, Guildhouse Chief Executive Officer, Emma Fey and guest judge, Jose da Silva, Director of UNSW Galleries, were united in their decision, noting the strength and diversity of South Australia’s artistic community.

The panel commented, ‘Liam Fleming has developed an entirely singular glass practice alongside years of experience as a production glassblower and assistant to other makers. Liam’s beguiling objects capture a moment of transformation through the controlled demolition of mould-blown forms. They are captivating in their demonstration of expert technique, uncertainty and imperfection.’

The panel were unanimous in their belief that Liam’s work makes a vital contribution to contemporary Australian art through glass and that he would take full advantage of this transformative opportunity. They stated, ‘Liam’s application provided a compelling rationale for how the Fellowship would build momentum in his career, driving further innovation in coldworking techniques and the opportunity to focus exclusively on his studio practice.

James & Diana Ramsay Foundation Executive Director, Kerry de Lorme says, ‘Liam Fleming’s practice demonstrates the clarity of purpose, ambition and experimentation we aspire to support through the Guildhouse Fellowship. We recognise how important and unique opportunities such as this are, particularly with a presentation outcome at AGSA. The Guildhouse Fellowship makes a unique contribution to the development of South Australian artists’ careers and the state’s cultural economy more broadly. We can see the impact the Fellowship has had for past Fellows Troy-Anthony Baylis and Sera Waters and are delighted to confirm our continued support for a further three years.

AGSA Director, Rhana Devenport ONZM commented, ‘The Guildhouse Fellowship is critical to the sustainability and growth of artistic excellence in South Australia. We commend the James & Diana Ramsay Foundation for their visionary support and we look forward to collaborating with Liam on a Fellowship outcome to be presented at AGSA.

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

Liam Fleming is a Tarntanya (Adelaide) based glassblower, artist and designer with an active practice of over ten years. Alumni of University of South Australia’s visual arts program and the prestigious JamFactory glass training program, Fleming currently works part-time as Design Manager for JamFactory Glass Studio, a position he has held since 2015. Technically trained as a production glassblower, Fleming’s art practice is characterised by his unique sculptural objects. His work is often an expression of his interest in the complicated relationship between craft, art, design and architecture.

Fleming’s work has been exhibited extensively, including as an annual feature in Melbourne Design Week. Internationally, his work has been displayed as part of London Design Week, Milan Design Week and in Berlin during Australia Now. He has received numerous grants and scholarships in support of his work, including a full scholarship to attend the acclaimed Pilchuck Glass School in Washington, USA, in 2018 and an Art Gallery of South Australia artist bursary in 2020. A renowned artist in his medium, Fleming was invited as a speaker and demonstrator at the 2018 International Glass Art Society conference in Venice, Italy and the 2019 Australasian Glass conference in Whanganui, New Zealand. Additionally, he has been recognised as a finalist in several prestigious awards including JamFactory Fuse Glass Prize 2018, Art Gallery of Western Australia Tom Malone Glass Prize 2019, The Design Files Design Awards 2020 and Art Galley of South Australia Ramsay Art Prize 2021.

Fleming has been invited to undertake artist residencies in Delhi, India, Oaxaca, Mexico, Murano, Italy and Seattle, USA. In July/August this year, he will fulfil the acclaimed Artist in Residence position at Canberra Glassworks. Actively engaged in the creative community, Fleming has established an impressive network of collaborators working across disciplines, most notably with furniture designer and maker Jon Goulder in 2017and architect and designer Adele Winteridge in 2021.

Fleming works out of JamFactory and his personal studio in Adelaide, South Australia, a space he has shared with glass artists Janice Vitkovsky and Alex Valero since 2017. Within this space, Fleming facilitates a weekly drawing evening, an ongoing creative project he has hosted across studios and other spaces for over a decade. Fleming continues to exhibit frequently, with a selected piece from his Post-Production series currently on display at Art Gallery of South Australia as part of the 2021 Ramsay Art Prize. His works are held in private collections nationwide and in the public collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Images (L-R): Ramsay Art Prize 2021 featuring Liam Fleming with the work Post-Production, photograph Saul Steed; Liam Fleming, Graft Vase Series, 2019, photograph Grant Hancock; Liam Fleming, Post-Production #2, 2020, photograph Grant Hancock.