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Lay of the Land Bertil Vallien

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          Artist Name: VALLIEN, BERTIL                 Date: 1938-


          Nationality: Swedish


          Title/Date: King's Voyage, 1996


          Size:                                                              Medium: sand-cast glass, copper and glass inclusions


Salient Characteristics of this Work:


·         Large scale

·         Figurative and abstracted ship-like or vessel form-the ship symbolizes loneliness for Vallien


Salient Characteristics of the Artist/Anecdotal Information:


·        Sand-cast glass-the process of pouring molten glass into a prepared mold made largely of compressed sand-it is among the oldes ways of fabricating glass. This process brings silicates in touch with silica,           two related elements, meeting in an inferno, one part trying to melt the other, while that other tries to cool and shape it right back.

·        The result is a wonderful melding-glass pitted by its battle with millions of grains of sand

·        The surface has a crusted appearance-the glass has been battered by its journey into form

·        Vallien often casts blocky and rectilinear forms, usually embedding figural references within their mass-like entombing these forms-often will have faces entombed.


Information Narrative:


·        Born in Sweden in 1938

·        Vallien is a groundbreaking figure in Swedish glass art-renowned as a great master of sand casting-has radically redefined traditional glass vessels, from those that are purely functional to those that are           sculptural and symbolic

·        Creates meter long ships cast in glass-these boats exist as containers for messages and metaphors for man’s existence-explore universal themes, including the journey of life and the unknown destinations

·        Sand-cast glass, copper and flame worked glass inclusions

·        He views the ship as a perfect vessel for the expression of loneliness. “It is evocative of femininity, of adventure, of catastrophe, a thin protective shell that demands the absolute respect of all aboard. It is a           society in isolation a self-contained world afloat on the sea.”



Questions for discussion:


Why might Vallien use a boat shape/form for his works?


What do you see in this glass piece?


Does the title “King’s Voyage” add anything to your appreciation of the work?


Is there another title that you think might be more appropriate?


How does this piece fit into the theme “Lay of the Land”?



Additional Thoughts:


Vallien has also designed for Kosta Boda, a Swedish design company making glass pieces for individual and home collections.  Some of these pieces are small enough to fit in one’s hand.  So the artist clearly enjoys working in both large and small format cast glass pieces.  There is often something pleasant about being able to own a work by a noted artist, others say that it can “cheapen” the more individual or unique pieces. 


There is a similar, sand-cast, boat shaped piece much like “King’s Voyage” in the collection of the King of Sweden, but a table-top sized work.


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