Abstract Storytelling with Australian Glass Artist Tala Kaalim

September 26, 202218 min read

Inspired by the different visual and textural qualities of glass, Tala Kaalim sees glassmaking as a kind of abstract storytelling.

Inspired by the different visual and textural qualities of glass, Tala Kaalim sees glassmaking as a kind of abstract storytelling. Her finished works – whether a glass-blown vase or a one-of-a-kind sculptural piece – often reveal the various stages of her unique experimental process. 

In 2018, Tala was studying a bachelor of visual arts at Sydney College of the Arts where she first came across glassblowing. During her studies, Sydney University decided to relocate the esteemed art school without bringing the glass blowing studio with them. She decided it was now or never, and gave glassmaking a go. Tala fell completely in love with it, the university decided to keep the studio alive, and so she devoted her entire studies to learning the art of working with glass. 

Her style is texturally orientated, more specifically, the way textures evolve over time, like an object’s decay and inevitable breakdown. Or exposure to nature’s elements, such as how a metal patina oxidises on the surface of a material and changes its appearance.

Tala’s glassmaking is material and process-driven, and usually starts with coming up with a form or textural concept. She then draws versions of how the piece can come to life and maps out the making process in her mind to see how possible the initial idea will be to make real. 

The concept is then taken to the hot shop (a glassmaker's workroom containing the furnace) where Tala creates various prototypes to see how glass responds to the idea. In typical artistic fashion, she sits with the tangible object for quite some time, refining it before bringing an exquisite finished piece out into the world.  

In Tala’s world, a new product may take weeks to months to be brought to life. Her desire is for perfection, and when you look at the impeccable pieces she imagines up, it makes sense that each takes many prototypes, stages of refinement, and thought processes to get right. Tala’s practice emphasises how versatile, functional, yet permanent glass as a medium truly is. 

Tala was selected to take part in the JamFactory Glass associate training program from 2019 to 2020, and is currently a continuing member of the glass blowing community in Adelaide.

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