Goblet and bottle  2012 
37 x 17 cm Goblet and bottle  2012
37 x 17 cm

Vase  2015  
66 x 16 cm,   59 x 14 cm  Vase 2015 
66 x 16 cm,   59 x 14 cm 

Vase  2015 
28 x 15 cm Vase 2015
28 x 15 cm

Vase 2015  
29 x 15 cm  Vase 2015 
29 x 15 cm 

Mirror 
42 x 38 cm Mirror
42 x 38 cm

Flowervase 2000 
23 x 16 cm  Flowervase 2000
23 x 16 cm 

Flowervase  2000 
26 x 15 cm Flowervase 2000
26 x 15 cm

Cratervase 2003  
46 x 17 cm Cratervase 2003 
46 x 17 cm

photo: def_image photo: def_image

photo: def_image photo: def_image

photo: def_image photo: def_image

photo: def_image photo: def_image

photo: def_image photo: def_image

01Heesen

Cratervase 2003 
46 x 17 cm

Bernard Heesen

Crystal Palace

On my way to Leerdam in 1984. The directions tell me that De Oude Horn is to the right of the River Linge. For several years this former watermill has served as the studio of glass artist Willem Heesen. Glass isn’t really my cup of tea. For me it’s just fussing around with a syrupy material, not an art form. The studio visit doesn’t alter my view.

Two years later I’m walking through the galleries of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and see bits of glasswork dotted here and there. I’m instantly drawn to the Drunken Goblets from 1985 by Willem’s son, Bernard Heesen. I head back towards Leerdam. His workshop lies hidden amid the flowering cow parsley. Bernard, who trained as an architect, makes the glass world sing. Enormous masses of glass are loaded in and out of the kilns: bricks, goblets, children’s baths and ladies’ handbags. No fussing around here! He wields his material like a glass anarchist. There is no limit to the size. His objects cannot be big, mad or garish enough.

In the late 1990s Bernard began a series of creations inspired by the extravagant objects illustrated in his enormous collection of encyclopaedias. Enlarged, miniaturised, tarnished it didn’t matter. It was a motley procession. Around the same time he began work on his own series of encyclopaedic publications: The World of the Glassblower. Three volumes have since appeared.

Following the rediscovery of the early industrial pressed glass of Heer Jeekel (1839-1885), glass manufacturer and mayor of Leerdam, Bernard began reproducing clear press glass. He also uses existing pieces that he finds at flea markets or in attics, which he joins together with silicone adhesive. Glassworks as clear as the water of the River Linge. I see them in the beautifully restored glass studio, De Oude Horn. My opinion of glass has long since changed.