Gravity. An intangible concept. Something that can neither be seen nor felt; yet, still a common denominator in life, and a force that keeps us all grounded in a world of constant movement and change.
Though most of us take it for granted, or simply do not consider it at all, artist and designer Neil Chaikel finds the concept of gravity not only a fascinating idea, but also a major inspiration in much of his work, his glass sculptures.
With a degree in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute, New York, and having studied ceramics and printmaking at the University of Victoria and electronic media at Langara College, Chaikel has devoted his life to the creation of object forms and the study of their impact on - and resonance in - our environment.
Having also worked as an elementary school art teacher, a product designer, a director of research and development, and a sculpting instructor, Chaikel’s knowledge and understanding of art and design is extensive. His list of clients includes E.F. Hauserman, MacMillan Bloedel, the Municipality of Powell River, Diamond Fields and Akeda Tools.
The Warm Glass
Chaikel first began glass sculpting in 1984, with a preference for slump molding, a process by which sheet glass is heated and formed on top of and through a mold. Neil has used his extensive knowledge of design and ceramics to develop a unique process for his glasswork.
By arranging and kiln-firing flat glass over original, intricately designed and constructed ceramic drop-through molds, and then varying and juxtaposing the glass, Neil is able to create exquisite, contemporary pieces possessing both form and function.
Parallel with the meticulous planning, sketching, and prototyping involved in the work, there seems to exist a point at which Chaikel hands his creations over to gravity and lets this force take control and allows it to give each piece a distinct and exciting shape and personality.
“Gravity is the common force my work shares with natural forms. I am impressed by the effortless way gravity presents an endless number of variables and opportunities.”
Now working out of his studio in Chilliwack, BC, Chaikel's work has been exhibited in Vancouver, Victoria, Montreal and Seattle.