Ballintoy is ‘mecca ‘for glasswork

Husband and wife Scott Benefield and Andrea Spencer.
Husband and wife Scott Benefield and Andrea Spencer.

Two of the UK’s top glass artists are planning on making their new studio in Ballintoy a mecca for glasswork.

Husband and wife Scott Benefield and Andrea Spencer have relocated to Ballintoy and have installed a new purpose built craft studio, which will be open to the public on August 5 as part of August Craft Month.

Andrea, who is originally from Hertfordshire, moved to Northern Ireland in 1993 after graduating in Architectural Glass from Edinburgh College of Art.

She said: “I had visited here a few times and fell in love with the place. It was unusual at the time because it was still a little bit unsettled here and there was nothing really going on here regarding glass.”

Scott was born in Japan but was brought up in the US, living in New Orleans and Seattle.

He is regarded as one of the leading international glass artists and has been appointed to chair the jury for this year’s British Glass Biennale at the International Festival of Glass.

The pair met at an artist residency in Scotland, fell in love and Scott moved to Northern Ireland in 2010.

Andrea said: “We participate in international craft shows and go out to the US quite a bit to work and teach and do residencies.

“We are hoping that having the studio will encourage people to come over here. We have told fellow glass artists about Northern Ireland and they are all keen to come over.

“It’s a very specific audience and nature themes are soothing and calming so I use a lot of references to nature in sculptures and windows.

“My own gallery based work is based on natural forms and sea forms, collecting objects on the beach,” she added.

Scott’s work is influenced by historical glass in particular Venetian glass. All of his work is based on a particular technique known as cane – a way of working that gets patterns into the glass in a unique way. It’s something he has brought over to Northern Ireland and raised awareness about it and a lot more people are interested in learning it.

Andrea added: “When we moved up here last year we met a lot of new people doing work in our area and as a result I’m going to be doing a show ‘Five Artists in a Byre’ at Cloughmills.” Scott and Andrea’s Open Studio Day is on August 5 from 10am to 4pm. Contact andreaspencerglass@gmail.com or call 07751224855.