Inside the Artist's Studio - Monica Provan

Brought to you by Birregurra Arts Group (BAG)

 “Inside the Artist’s Studio” is a new initiative by BAG. Each month, professional artists are invited to BAG get togethers to share their experience and give us a glimpse into their life as a practicing and professional artist. This is an edited transcript of our first interview which took place at BAG’s most recent monthly get together. The next “Inside the Artist’s Studio” interview will be on Thursday 14th March. Everyone of all ages are welcome. No cost although gold coin donations are always welcome.

This month’s guest Artist was Monica Provan, a lampwork glass artist who crafts beautiful beads and jewellery from hot glass and metals. Monica is also one of the founding members of Gellibrand River Gallery.

Who or what inspired you to take up your arts practice, and make it your career?
As a child, my parents would buy glass amlets for me every birthday. Since then, the internet showed me how accessible the materials were. They are sourced from overseas—America, Venice, Germany. Thirty years ago you couldn’t order these materials as you would have to travel to get them. I have honed my skills by watching YouTube videos.

Who or what were the most important influences on your artwork?
I chose hot glass and metal because I was trying to stay away from what my mum enjoyed doing because she was great at everything! I had to find something totally different!

What have been the greatest challenges of your arts career so far?
Learning to use the internet to sell my work. Most of my work is sold to buyers in America. There is a large beading culture in the United States. After the artist makes the beads they then use them to make a piece of artwork that you hang around your neck!

Which pieces of work are you most proud of?
My experiments! Using the colours of the glass that no one sees as being possible. The glass reacts with the colours and I enjoy using different techniques to use colours that people don’t usually use in this art form. I use pitting in my artwork which other glass people may see as mistakes.

Do you have a favourite space or studio to work in?
In my imagination!! My house plans include a room to house my four different types of torches along with all the safety equipment that I need. At the moment I work in a dusty shed with all the extra stuff that we can’t fit into the house. It’s dusty and cramped!

Who are your favourite artists and why?
The Arts and Craft Movement—particularly Macintosh. [I like] the way they incorporate art work into their craft. The Arts and Craft Movement started producing handmade pieces in America response to industrialisation. This Movement strongly influenced the Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras.

What is your most memorable exhibition or workshop?
I have never had an individual exhibition but my first group exhibition was at the Glass Festival in Drysdale about four years ago. Before then, I thought that no one liked my work. At this exhibition I sold lots of stuff and I realised that other people like my style and that gave me confidence.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring artists?
My biggest lesson so far had been to find your market and not to stick to one place. If you enjoy creating it someone will enjoy purchasing it.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working towards the Drysdale Glass Festival which is on this weekend. It is the only glass festival in Australia and this is its 4th year. There will be many different techniques on display including slumped, cased, beads and marble work. Once my studio is finished I’d like to make marbles. It is a similar process to making a bead only without the whole through it.

(Note: Monica showed us one her magnificent marbles which was about 5 cm in diameter. It certainly IS NOT the type of marble that we used to play with!)

Big BAG thanks to guest artist, Monica Provan, our interviewer Fiona Brandscheid, and our wonderful scribe, Debbie McIntyre. This interview has been cut and edited for the Birre Mail. Some content has been omitted for brevity. Stay posted for details on our next artist. Comments and suggestions can be sent to