Robert Gary Parkes
A local artist at the 2017 Art in the City
“It was by many different and wonderful chance events that I was directed into glassblowing. In that respect, I consider myself very, very lucky to have had the chance to be where I am today with my craft.”
Discovering more about art is less of a want for Robert and more of a need. Robert got introduced to the world of glassblowing at a young age and was immediately addicted. He had a large desire to keep learning more and more about this amazing art form, eventually becoming the expert he is today.
Robert’s creative process is often inspired by a variety of colour, shapes and patterns, items such as seashells and fabrics which spark a new idea. Besides planning the materials and steps it will take to create a certain piece, Robert often doesn’t sketch out the form of his artworks and instead lets spontaneity and his creativity guide him. While his pieces don’t necessarily feature specific themes, a lot of his recent work reflects nature.
Robert credits his mentor, Robert Held, for much of his success. He spent five years as an apprentice for Held before opening his own studio. He describes Held to have had saw something in him and showed him a path to becoming a successful artist, steering him away from the pitfalls of trying to claw for fame and fortune. He adds he is very humbled to follow the same path as the ancient glassmakers of history that he looks up to.
After commuting for many years during his apprenticeship, Robert was lucky enough to be able to build his own studio on his property right here in Surrey. The Arts and Culture movement created by the City of Surrey was just getting off the ground at that time, so it was smooth sailing for Robert to establish himself as the only operating glassblowing studio in the city. Initiatives held by the City to promote the arts have been a huge support for Robert in his career, as well as a driving force to keep the artist moving forward.
Robert has worked tirelessly over his craft for more than 23 years now and hopes that he can inspire others to learn glassblowing to continue this beautiful art form. He asks those new to the craft to keep working and creating, to be unafraid to do other jobs to support their artistic endeavours. Focus your attention on your passion, forget about recognition, fame, or monetary gain, as that will come if you work hard at what you love to do.
Robert will be participating in Art in the City, a two-day self-guided tour on September 30 and October 1 around 8 Surrey locations housing 29 artists displaying their work! Click here for full event details