Beautiful Glass Art or Not Beautiful Glass Art
— Looking back on past award-winners —（４／９）
The International Exhibition of Glass Kanazawa was held for the first time in 1984. At that time, the name of the exhibition was “The International Exhibition of Glass Craft”. The second exhibition was held in 1986, and it was followed by further exhibitions in 1988 and in 1990. At the fourth exhibition, the name of the exhibition was changed to “The International Exhibition of Glass Kanazawa ‘90”. Until the fifth exhibition held in 1992, the exhibition was held every two years as biennale. After the sixth exhibition, the frequency changed to every three years as triennale until today.
The purpose and planning of the exhibitions can be learned from the outline in the first and second exhibition catalogues. The development of the exhibition can also be understood through all the catalogues, showing the change in course to become an international competition for contemporary glass art.
It was in 1984 that Ishikawa prefecture established the Design Center as a public service corporation. The first “International Exhibition of Glass Craft” was held in the same year. The exhibition was planned as a means to exchange design inspiration between Scandinavia and Ishikawa prefecture. It exhibited glass products designed by Scandinavian as well as Japanese companies. If you look at the catalogue of the second exhibition “International Exhibition of Glass Craft ‘86” it shows that the exhibition started with the concept of glass design in everyday life. As a result, the content of the exhibition is mainly high quality tableware.
It is interesting to note that in this exhibition there were two special categories featuring the submissions from open calls to glass artists, one for Japan and the other for Scandinavia.
Looking back at the works in these two categories, although most works come under the category of tableware, they can be called free creation rather than glass design. At the third exhibition in 1988, this free creation category was expanded with an open call for submissions for exhibition. In this way, the original form of the present “International Exhibition of Glass Kanazawa” was established. At that time the exhibition venue still had a corner where domestic companies’ glass design works were exhibited. However, its main purpose was as an international competition of glass art. It transformed itself from a glass design to a glass art exhibition. In fact, the catalogue reports that the number of submissions was over 1,200. Although there is no detailed record of what triggered the transformation, we can gather from the experts that a major factor was the understanding of the importance of the contribution to the new era of glass art. It was at the fourth International Exhibition of Glass Kanazawa ’90 that the style of the exhibition was changed to that of today. Although the organizers were a joint committee of Ishikawa prefecture and Kanazawa city, the Kanazawa Chamber of Commerce and Industry played a central role in holding this exhibition. Soon the Exhibition Secretariat was moved to the Design Center Ishikawa and the members of the Secretariat have played an important role in organizing the exhibition to this day.
Let’s take a look at the early stages of the exhibition.