Beauty in Glass

An interview with Gordana Drinković, artist and product designer in glass

ZIYP: Gordana, could you introduce yourself to our readers? What do you think they might like to know about you?

Gordana: I'm an artist working in the medium of glass, producing artworks and working in product design. Over the last 25 years I have created more than 500 artworks and products which have gained a reputation in Croatia and worldwide for their personality, originality and artistic conception.

ZIYP: Where does the process of creating your works begin – with shapes you notice in nature or is the vision from within? Please tell us about your creative process.

Gordana: What I create is what I think about, what I feel, the way I live. I don't have and don't seek inspiration from outside myself. I'm a part of the world in which I live and in that sense I'm emotionally and socially engaged, but I create from a very personal, lived, intuitive perspective.

Through my works I express my thoughts and feelings. All of my works have names, I experience them as creatures. They transmit my artistic vision.

To make something new, something different, to create something new with meaning seems like mission impossible particularly when you're working with traditional materials. Everything already exists in a variety of forms. The form itself doesn't have any particular meaning. The artist seeks to create new meaning, and the only way to bring new meaning is through ourselves, our creativity, the truth which is the path to understanding ourselves. An artist's work is hard as you're always at the beginning, struggling.

(An area I'm particularly interested in is transforming the utilitarian into non-utilitarian art and vice versa. That concept is exactly what has made my work famous worldwide. Art that nobody lives with is pretty lonely).

(If I were a man perhaps my work would have been purely artistic, but my female nature motivates me to bring materials and objects into closer contact with everyday life… The Miljenice glasses are friends who console you; the light of a candle brings you peace… You can feel the beauty of the everyday through little things, through a little extra care, beauty which we can create ourselves. Sometimes a simple flower makes me happy. Then I experience the vase as an altar on which I place my experienced happiness.)

ZIYP: Why is glass so important to you, where does the special connection with glass as the material of your artistic creation come from?

Gordana: I'm in love with glass. You can never fully explain love for somebody or something. My love has its roots in my childhood when, playing, I observed the world through my mother's crystal glasses as if through magic spectacles.

I became attracted to seeing reality displaced through the transparency of glass and refracted light.

Falling in love developed into being in love.

Glass is a material of particular beauty, full of contradictions, limitations… it is liquid made solid, an illusion of lightness and weight, fragility and hardness, a material shaped by people's breath and by light…

I gave my exhibition in the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb in 2013 the name “Glass, my other body”. I can explain that name in the following words:

Glass is close to me. In it and in its transparency I can and I want to express what I think and what I feel. Through works in glass I communicate with the world just as I communicate through my body, my words, my behaviour and my life.

ZIYP: How long does it take you to create a collection? What is the path from the idea to reality?

Gordana: The creative process is something I cannot interrupt. I create out of necessity, not for fun.

I can't predict how long it will take me to seek and make real an idea. Most often though it happens over a period of months, though some collections have developed over years.

I do my thinking and work on paper at home. I can't shape glass directly with my hands, so I have to accept the intermediaries between myself and the materials. The intermediaries are the workers and the factory. My presence is necessary so the glassblower and the workers understand what I want to make, so that I can sow my spirit and energy into the glass. A drawing is not enough. A synergy between all the actors in the process is required. That means spending time on hot or cold factory factory floors, in draughts, on night time or early morning shifts, the weight of glass of which my back pain is a constant reminder… Apart from that, I love to work and be in the factory, by the furnaces full of molten glass.

ZIYP: What can you tell us about the exhibition which the people of Zadar and their guests will be able to see this summer?

Gordana: I decided to present in Zadar collections which have achieved worldwide success such as the Manhattan, Atlantis and Babylon city candlestick collections which won the HFN 2010 Award of Excellence at Tabletop New York in 2010. The Queen of Sweden owns the Atlantis collection of candlesticks.

I am also showing glasses which were ordered as a wedding gift for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie; the Purple Rain collection which I designed in 1994 and dedicated to Prince, and the Tango collection which the famous artists Gilbert and George use as their champagne glasses.

Visitors will also be able to see the Clear Day and Rainy Day sculptures, Light and Cinderella which were part of the exhibition of Croatian sculpture in glass in the Mimara Museum in Zagreb in 2013.

There will also be a small part of the Opa Art Made in Croatia collection which is currently taking shape in my atelier almost on a daily basis. I snap, break, smash, cut and damage glass objects in myriad ways and am creating using the fragments.

Leading experts in contemporary art in glass selected works from the Afrika Babalawo and Iyalawo collections for the European Glass Context Curated exhibition in the Bornholm Art Museum in Denmark in September 2016. I'm proud that through my work Croatia will be taking part in that exhibition. I will have to recall the Afrika Babalawo and Iyalawo works from the exhibition in Zadar, but I'll replace them with other works from the Afrika collection.

ZIYP: In Croatia can you study to be an artist working in glass? Are there other artists like you working in glass in Croatia?

Gordana: Zagreb has a Design Studies course. Of course there are artists working in glass in Croatia. Each has their own personal approach to glass and to art.

ZIYP: Is it possible to buy your collections somewhere?

Gordana: Anyone interested in my work can contact me via my website:

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