A EXHIBITION by glassblower Chris Day has opened in Harewood’s All Saints’ Church as part of a brand new Craft Spotlight series launched by Harewood House Trust.

The series will provide a platform for emerging makers of diverse ethnicities, particularly in view of the significant under-representation of diverse heritage among makers in the craft sector.

The first artist to display, Chris Day, creates glass works to open conversations around Black history including the Transatlantic Slave Trade and will bring Harewood’s own history into that dialogue through new work he has made for the exhibition.

He said: “Like the glass I have pushed my approach in how I work with glass and ceramics in both traditional and experimental methods, to create contemporary artworks that represent my passion for this part of our history. As a black glassblower, I am one of few and on a quest to find and inspire more. My main purpose, however, is to engage the audience on issues that are hard to confront on many levels, using art to help overcome some of the traumas that haunt our collective past.”

Despite the iridescent beauty of Chris Day’s mixed media art, such highly personal works are, without question, etched with brutality and suffering. Day’s intention is to discuss and investigate the treatment of black people in Britain and the United States of America with much of his research focused on the history of the slave trade in the 18th Century and the Civil Rights Movement.

After visiting the new exhibition, Iwona Blazwick, Trustee of Harewood House Trust & Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London said: “I was lucky enough to visit the Church with Diane and David [Lascelles] and to see Chris Day’s work – in the darkness you see gleaming masses of molten glass hanging like viscera or neatly arranged as a congregation or an offering – without a trace of literalism he evokes not just the ghosts of slavery but an unnerving human presence – I think he has achieved something very profound.”

Day’s art caught the eye of Hannah Obee, Director of Collections, Programme and Learning at Harewood House Trust when she was developing the new craft spotlight series.

She said: “During our 2019 Harewood Craft Biennial, I read a report that 96% of professional, full-time crafts people identified as White British. We had already decided this lack of diversity would be a key subject for discussion in the next Harewood Biennial. What we needed though was a consistent response to this lack of racial equality in the craft world, so we developed the Craft Spotlight series.”

His exhibition work, curated by Vessel Gallery director Angel Monzon, will be on display at All Saints’ Church in Harewood until October 31. Access to All Saints’ Church and the exhibition is included in Harewood Day tickets or free to members.

Visit harewood.org for more.