Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg came to Italian cutting techniques because they felt they had discovered a new way to expand dramatically on what they were already doing – using sandblasting as a way to cut through layers of color to create new and originally inspired patterns and ideas. In a nutshell, this development also contained a neat autobiographical element. They both learned our metier in Sweden where layering color through blown overlays (originally developed by Simon Gate for the Graal technique at Orrefors) was an “old” 20th-century process. If they used that same technique and applied Italian cutting, originally pioneered by Carlo Scarpa in the 1930s and 40s, it opened up a vast and expanding panorama of possibilities. And for the last fifteen years, that is what Philip and Monica have been doing.
Battuto is a style, a manner, a tool of expression. It allows an otherwise shiny glass surface to loose its shine, to gain an earthy, pithy texture, to acquire depth, a matte finish. Combined with layers of colored glass, cut through, it yields a whole new way to “paint” on glass. But the tool is never the expression itself.
It’s not the technique that speaks. The latter is more comparable to the key that opens the portal to the architect’s mysterious dream house. Rather it is the expression of color and light and texture and pattern and shape which it permits us to reveal which takes on meaning. Certain techniques, over time, become signature elements in an artist’s oeuvre.
Seen over fifteen years Philip and Monica have ranged widely: standing guardians and courtesans; long, undulating, blown sculptural forms, stretched, whimsical, reaching for the sky; myriad sphere pieces on a very large scale – metal spines and glass spheres merging in extravagant and exuberant patterns, playing in a space of line and curve and flexing movement; standing by their side, the solid vases, evolving and ubiquitous vessels very much at the core of our work, their steadfast presence and simplicity of shape keeping them fundamentally important and beautiful for us. And now, most recently, a foray into vessels containing vessels: voyage, artefact and transport united in purpose.