Glass talent hidden by Iron Curtain

Chris Hill An exhibition celebrating post-war glass masterpieces by artists whose identities were masked by the Iron Curtain has been unveiled.

Chris Hill

An exhibition celebrating post-war glass masterpieces by artists whose identities were masked by the Iron Curtain has been unveiled.

The show at King's Lynn Arts Centre Gallery features 600 colourful items from the Czechoslovakian collection of Dr Graham Cooley, who wants to reveal the names and stories behind the designs.

From the 1950s, the country's skilled designers produced hundreds of original pieces which were used as templates for mass-produced goods sold through high-street stores in the West. But the communist regime of the time meant that Czech artists were rarely named - despite the fact that many are recognised today as masters of 20th-century glass design.

The exhibition, entitled Hi Sklo Lo Sklo - From Masterpiece to Mass Produced, considers the themes which inspired the masterworks and focuses on how these were translated for the mass market.

Dr Cooley said he also hoped to educate visitors and help them identify some of the many vases and bowls which lie unattributed and forgotten in attics and cupboards.

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“There have been countless studies on the other significant glass movements in Italy and Scandinavia, but one of the tenets of communism was to stamp out the culture of the individual so a lot of eastern European designers were not advertised as they were in the West,” he said. “If people come to the exhibition they might be able to recognise these pieces at sales and buy something very valuable. It will break open a new area of collecting - some of the originals are worth thousands.”

The exhibition runs from Sunday, July 13 until Saturday, August 9.

t From 10am to midday on Sunday, July 13, Dr Cooley will view items of glassware brought in by the public for identification and valuation.