Chris Day uses glass art to tell stories of black British lives throughout history
Chris Day lives in Staffordshire, in England and is a glassblower. Three years ago, he took up the traditional craft as a university course at the University of Wolverhampton, in the United Kingdom.
‘I don’t promote myself as a good glass blower. I call myself the caveman of glass blowing because I don’t follow the normal rules of glass blowing. Glass is so precious. It could fail at any time. So you’re always on the edge. Your heart’s going a hundred miles an hour. So you’ve got every emotion.’
Having recently got his big break, to showcase his work at a renowned gallery in London, he finds the need to use his work to communicate a message or lesson through his work for black people everywhere.
‘I have to pinch myself everyday, three years at university, still doing baby steps in the glass industry and then I’ve been propelled into one of the biggest galleries in London. I’ve tried to develop work that’s about slavery, civil rights movement, identity and a black presnece in England.’
He says doing what he does is his way of breaking free like his ancestors did.
‘This is my way of breaking free. The same as what the slaves tried to do. They wanted to break free from incarceration. They wanted to but they couldn’t. They were confined. It’s very upsetting looking back in history. When you start researching and looking deep into it, the brutality is just atrocious.
The more I looked into it, the more I thought I’d got to make a body of work that actually can have that conversation but not scare people.’
The conversation he speaks of is being heard across the world after the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests.
He believes the events of police brutality in the US, in 2020, has shot him into the limelight. Although, every now and then, he says he gets someone discouraging from doing his work because ‘it’s all in the past now’.’
He insists however, that he will not cut back on his work because it is part of who he is.
Chris Day explains that lack of representation across all industries and in the media are to blame for the mistreatment of black people worldwide. In the meantime, he wishes to fill in the gap for young black children.
‘There are thousands of black artists out there but they don’t get that representation.
The one thing I’d love is to inspire other kids. If I am the only black glass blower, why? Why aren’t there any other youths out there wanting to do it? I think the problem is they don’t see black faces doing it. You’ve got to have that sort of link and hopefully I might be that link.’