An interesting afternoon at the gallery





On Sunday, 26th May, visitors were treated to a tour and talk by Sam, one of the Haworth Art Gallery staff.

We went on a tour of the Tiffany rooms looking at the various beautiful pieces of glass. Sam explained how Tiffany, as a young man, had been on archaeological digs in Cyprus and was fascinated by the glass items unearthed. Having been in the ground for hundreds of years, glass pieces had acquired a natural textural iridescence and he wanted to recreate this effect in his glass.

With a great deal of experimentation over several years, his team of chemists and craftsmen were able to produce textured iridescent glass using metal compounds, producing differing colours of blue, purple, green, silver and gold. Pieces of this glass were used in mosaics, some of which were huge and decorated many public and private buildings in America. Special vases and display pieces were also made and the gallery has a wide selection in their permanent collection, some of the pieces being rare. We have to thank Joseph Briggs, originally from Accrington, who rose to be the top man at Tiffany Glass, as he sent back to Accrington so many pieces of Tiffany glass for our town when the works closed, rather than have the pieces destroyed. Today, the gallery’s collection of Tiffany glass is the best in Europe, having such diverse examples, some of which are rare.

The talk ended with a viewing from the gallery’s collection of an ancient vial of Roman glass unearthed in Cyprus. This piece showed the natural iridescence which had developed in the hundreds of years the item had been buried. Sam also had several iridescent Tiffany tiles for us to view and explained the process of their manufacture.

A most enjoyable and fascinating afternoon. If you go along to the gallery, you can see the Tiffany collection and read about its manufacture and how it came to be here.

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