The National Glass Collectors Fair

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In-Fair Exhibition:
Benny Motzfeldt

Glass Designer Benny Motzfeldt
Glass Designer Benny Motzfeldt

The November 2019 National Glass Fair once again featured an in-fair exhibition of interesting and thought- provoking glassware.

The exhibition focused on the work of the highly influential Norwegian glass designer Benny Motzfeldt (1909-95), whose designs were also showcased previously at our Land of the Midnight Sun exhibition.

Benny Anette Berg Motzfeldt was born in Levanger, Norway and began her career as an aspiring painter: graduating from the Norwegian School of Crafts and Art Industry in 1935. The following year, at the age of 27, she debuted with an exhibition of watercolours and drawings at the Olso State Autumn Exhibition in 1936.

Motzfeldt went on to work in more commercial capacity as an advertising artist and illustrator and most notably designed cover illustrations for A-Magasinet. This grounding in the rules of visual communication no doubt came in handy when Motzfeldt turned her hand to designing very modern, minimal and evocative glass forms.

Motzfeldt was first introduced to the world of glass making in 1955 when she was employed as a draftsperson for Christiania Glass magazine. Initially her role was to create designs that would be sandblasted or engraved onto ornamental glass designs produced by Hadeland Glassverk.

Whilst she hadn't previously shown much interest in glassmaking, that all changed after a trip to Italy where Motzfeldt visited the glass works in Murano - opening her eyes to the potential glass making had for artistic expression. This experience more than likely encouraged Motzfeldt to start working directly with the glass blowers at the Hadeland glassworks (around 1960-62). This hands-on experience gave her the opportunity to work more spontaneously with glass and experiment with different shapes and materials. The first fruits of this collaboration came in the form of a series of small 'Icebergs' sculptures.

Whilst working at Hadeland (1955-67) Motzfeldt developed her own distinctive style of organic and expressive designs, which were often characterised by the playful use of air bubbles mixed with metallic inclusions. Motzfeldt was also a pioneer when it came to breaking norms and blurring of the lines between functional glassware and art glass. Her 'Benny' series of functional glassware was particularly groundbreaking and ahead of its time in this regard.

From 1967 Benny Motzfeldt took on the role of artistic director at Randsfjord Glassverk. Her main focus during this period was the creation of more affordable glassware. However she also continued to develop her distinctive style of art glass: drawing on her background as a mixed media artist to produce designs that incorporated unusual materials such as metal mesh and fibreglass. This artistic and risky approach to glass design was rewarded when Motzfeldt received the Jacob Prize in 1969.

In 1970 Motzfeldt was headhunted by Per Tannum, who wanted her to take over as the artistic director at PLUS in Fredrikstad. Once again Motzfeldt flourished and pushed her designs in new and interesting directions by collaborating closely with the glass blowers at PLUS. Motzfeldt clearly felt very much at home with the creative environment provided by PLUS and she continued her role as artistic director until her death in 1995.

The glass exhibited on Sunday 10 November 2019 included various examples of Motzfeldt's work from throughout her career as a glass designer.

Bottle Vase by Benny Motzfeldt

Bottle Vase by Benny Motzfeldt

Vase by Benny Motzfeldt

Vase by Benny Motzfeldt


Exhibitions Archive

May 2009: Fair Lamp Exhibition >>>
May 2010: All That Jazz Exhibition >>>
Nov 2011 >>>
May 2012: Royal Commemorative Glass >>>
Nov 2012: Portland Vase >>>
May 2013: Gray-Stan Art Glass >>>
Nov 2013: Short History of Art Glass in Hungary >>>
May 2014: Primrose Pearline & the Copyists >>>
Nov 2014: Uranium Glass >>>
May 2015: Hyacinth Vases >>>
November 2015: Carnival Glass Society >>>
May 2016: Isle of Wight Glass >>>
Nov 2016: Royal Brierley Studio Ware >>>
May 2017: Norman Stuart Clarke >>>
Nov 2017: Anthony & Maureen Ward Glass Collection >>>
May 2018: Chance Handkerchief Vases >>>
May 2019: Land of the Midnight Sun >>>