It was while studying at the Applied Arts University in Belgrade that Emma Varga first fell in love. This passion was for glass, a medium that Varga would form a complex and enduring relationship with.
Varga was born in Yugoslavia and has always found inspiration in the natural environment. Following her graduation, she spent time travelling. While a freelance artist, Varga broadened her skills as a worker in a glass factory in former Yugoslavia creating decorative glass. By the time she moved to Australia in 1995, she had become a highly skilled and experienced glass artist.
It is clear from her work that there is great complexity in both the concepts and processes of Varga’s work, which seeks to present three-dimensional images inside large transparent glass objects. These works are achieved through ‘multiple layers fusing’, a process she has developed over the past 20 years.
Varga must cut hundreds, even thousands, of glass elements from clear and transparent coloured glass sheets. She combines them with glass frits and stringers to create her three-dimensional piece. They are fused together in stages, a process that takes two weeks to fire and slowly cool. It then takes Varga another two weeks to grind and polish her work to perfection. It is only after this process that the fine details trapped inside can be seen.
Of course, the inspiration for these works stems from the landscape.
“The ‘flora’ or ‘landscape’ I create in glass is abstracted, reflecting more on the sense of the place and emotions triggered by colour and detail rather than creating a ‘portrait’ of the plant/coral/landscape. Many of my works reflect lost flora and landscapes, recreated in their previous colourful glory as they were preserved in my memories.”
Today, Varga’s work is represented across both Australia and the world, having extensively exhibited in over 80 major international exhibitions and over 30 solo exhibitions.
“I am far from being able to cover (translate into glass) all the myriad of plants and landscapes that touched my heart and inspired me – this body of work will continue to grow.”
The mesmerising work of Varga and nine other leading ceramic and glass artists can be discovered at Hurstville Museum & Gallery’s exhibition Beyond the bowl, opening 2 February 2019. Beyond the bowl highlights and celebrates the diversity of Australian contemporary ceramics and glass.
Emma Varga is represented by Sabbia Gallery, Sydney.
- Hurstville Museum & Gallery 2018, ‘Studio Snapshot: Emma Varga’ Educational Resource, http://www.georgesriver.nsw.gov.au/StGeorge/media/Documents/EMMA-VARGA-Educational-Resource.pdf
- Varga, E, ‘Emma Varga’, http://emmavarga.com
- Unknown Author, ‘Emma Varga’, Australian Contemporary, https://australiancontemporary.com/art-glass-sculpture-and-jewellery/art-glass-and-sculpture/emma-varga
- Ioannou, N 2006, ‘Emma Varga’, Sabbia Gallery, https://sabbiagallery.com/artists/emma-varga
Featured Image: Emma Varga, Grey bush, 2017, fused, cast and polished glass, Courtesy of Sabbia Gallery.