Surrey Hills designer Jane Bohane's glass and mirrored steel sculptures
PUBLISHED: 06:37 17 November 2014 | UPDATED: 18:21 06 October 2015
Creating dramatically beautiful sculptures from shards of glass and mirrored steel, designer Jane Bohane lives an idyllic life working from her studio in the Surrey Hills. Janet Donin went to meet her
With its twisting lanes dappled in sunshine, Holmbury St Mary is the perfect location for talented craftspeople to find inspiration. So I wasn’t surprised to discover sculptor Jane Bohane at her beautifully restored cottage surrounded by woods and fields.
Emerging from the studio at the edge of her blossoming garden and closely followed by a couple of her Pekin hens, she positively glows with enthusiasm. It’s the perfect day to see her striking glass sculptures, many of which are dotted around the garden...
Have you always been artistic?
Growing up, I was always drawing, doing photography or creating sculptures but I went into the catering business and ran a very successful company for about 20 years. When an opportunity arose to go to Reigate Art School, I immediately grasped it and did a part-time foundation course, then went on to Camberwell School of Art to take a degree in drawing. It was an amazing experience, which led me to discover the medium of glass.
Tell us about the design process?
I buy sheets of glass, which I cut by hand myself. But the stainless steel frames need specialist machines to manipulate so a local engineer makes them to size from my templates – it’s a collaboration of skills. Back in my studio, I position the glass in resin, which is hidden by the frame. Apart from flat or rippled coloured glass, I love using shattered glass, which has jagged edges creating more wonderful reflections.
What about the larger sculptures?
Having grown up in a farming community, I’m quite tough so I was never fazed by working with heavy materials. Many of my sculptures have frames of thick rusted metal, which when contrasted with the delicacy of the light reflecting glass is fascinating. But some of these sculptures take about four of us to carry so I’m now working on designs with more manageable pieces that can be bolted together to form one large sculpture. I’m also hoping to try my hand at welding.
Do you remember the first piece that you made?
It was a light box, which came about because of my fascination with light and shadow. One of my degree pieces was set in an old chest freezer, which I layered up with odd photographs and pieces of shattered windscreen glass. This was topped with a sheet of sand-blasted glass, which when under-lit and viewed from above created a photographic image.
It sounds amazing – do you still make them now?
My latest creation is a new take on the original light box. The frame is polished steel with three apertures revealing a series of images, created by layering paper cuts, glass and photos lit by a small bulb. Viewed from varying angles they look like moving shadows, which have always fascinated me.
Is this the way forward?
I’m enjoying experimenting with my light boxes but can’t resist working with new materials all the time. Some of my smaller pieces involve using odd pieces of wood and metal found while walking around the area or rescued from my cottage renovation. I incorporate these with shards of glass that I melt and then twist around the object. The results are intriguingly organic yet light-reflective too.
Your pieces do seem particularly well-suited to gardens?
Yes, the sunlight certainly gives each piece a unique look. The varying refractions of light, both on the glass and the frame, create endless contrasts of light and shade, which I’ve always found interesting. The finished sculptures can be hung in trees or mounted on a mirrored base to reflect the garden so look like they are hovering in space, which is quite magical.
Do you ever get time to relax?
My husband Guy says I’m always thinking about my next sculpture but I do switch off sometimes – like when I’m looking after my three hens and handsome cockerel Maverick. They and my grandson Hugo are my passion. And I’m also a bit of a Retsina connoisseur; a little unusual I know, but I do like to relax with a glass by the pond in the fading sun, listening to Radio 3.
And when are you at your most creative?
I must admit, I tend to be more creative during the winter months when the wind is blowing and the stream edging the studio gushes by. The solitude of my studio and the freedom of working on my own is the best. I can’t believe my luck.
• You can view Jane’s work at her studio by appointment by calling 07855 149566 or e-mail: info@ janebohane.com. You can also see some of her work at The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden in Ockley and The Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire.