Bornholm’s Biennials for contemporary glass and ceramics have been arranged biannually since 2005. Hundreds of European artists flock to the small Danish island to take part in the European Ceramic Context. The Danish Glass and Ceramics Biennial is the only one of its kind in Europe.
The biennial exhibits works of leading artists from all over Europe and offers a string of workshops, master-classes and other events. The biennial has always been a visionary collaboration between partners representing the commercial, cultural and educational sectors of Bornholm. The program takes place in the school at Nexø.
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The Royal Danish Academy, Design, Program for Crafts in Glass and Ceramics, is one of Europe’s leading educational institutions within the field of glass and ceramics. Its Professional Bachelor program is rooted in the strong tradition of Danish craftsmanship within glass and ceramics. “We investigate processes, materials and practice and develop an artistic voice and a professional language throughout the 3 ½ years of education,” is a statement on its website.
Way back in time, Bornholm, an island of only 36,000 inhabitants, has rich clay deposits to thank for its prominence in the field of ceramics and glass. Already in the 18th century the first ships exporting pottery took off from the island’s shores. The ceramics industry continued to flourish until the mid- 20th-century when the focus shifted to a growing sector of skilled individual craftsmen and women. During the following years, Bornholm’s artistic profile continued to grow as its rugged beauty attracted a string of artists, including a number of glass-artists who landed on the island.
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The biennial is motivated by a desire to promote the disciplines and trades of glass and ceramic art at European and global levels. The event aims to show a changing biannual overview of contemporary glass and ceramics. The workshops provide a living incubator for teaching, research and experiments of high quality, which attract visitors from all over the world and bring new perspectives to the area.
The Royal Danish Academy has excellent facilities, with both analogue and digital technologies for the use in working with the two materials, glass and ceramics. Bornholm’s strong artistic community still at the core of the island’s identity, the reason the Biennial takes place on Bornholm and not mainland Denmark.
Today, European Glass and Ceramic Context has become a significant event that not only conveys the development of the contemporary European scene in the form of exhibitions throughout Bornholm, but an essential platform that connects practitioners, researchers, curators and intermediaries. In addition, the Biennale communicates contemporary glass and ceramics to a broad art-interested audience in a multitude of exhibitions, talks and events.
Students, teachers and researchers can work on ceramics on every conceivable scale and with both cold and hot glass. The workshops, which are closely related to the number of students admitted, can accommodate approximately 70 working students.
In 2021, European Glass Context (11.09 – 21.11) will focus more on the UN’s World Goals and Sustainability and, moreover, sharpen the Biennale’s program points to further emphasize and develop the experimental scene. Bornholm Biennials for contemporary European glass and ceramics are jointly organized by Bornholm Art Museum, Royal Danish Academy – Crafts in Glass and Ceramics and Grønbechs Gård, where the Royal Danish Academy is the main partner.
The Danish Glass and Ceramics Biennial, written by Tor Kjolberg
All photos © European Glass Context 2021