Glass Exchange features work by four leading contemporary artists at sites across Sunderland including the National Glass Centre. 

Here’s everything you need to know… 


Colonial Ghost by artist Pascale Marthine Tayou on display at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland Picture: DAVID WOOD


Four major glasswork commissions by leading contemporary artists are now open to the public at sites across the North East.

Artists Monster Chetwynd, Ryan Gander, Katie Paterson and Pascale Marthine Tayou were invited by a panel of artists and curators, convened by the National Glass Centre, to create a new glass work as part of Glass Exchange, which is now open and running until Sunday, September 11, 2022. 

Glass Exchange celebrates Sunderland’s status as a world-leading centre for artistic practice in glass and draws on Wearside’s strong links with glass-making. 

The commissions were developed by the artists in collaboration with some of the most highly skilled glass makers in the UK, based at the National Glass Centre, and can be seen in and around the cities of Sunderland and Durham, including a vacant shop in Sunderland city centre, Durham Cathedral, and National Glass Centre.

The idea of Glass Exchange began in 2020 as an open question to artists who had yet to consider the potential of glass as a medium to express their creative ideas. 

Working alongside master glass blowers and internationally renowned artists, James Maskrey and Kalkie Mansell, artists submitted ideas, measurements and objects to the duo in a collaborative exercise. 

Glass Exchange is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence Fund, with additional funding from Art Fund, Henry Moore Foundation and the Coastal Communities Fund, and with thanks to the University of Sunderland and Durham Cathedral.


Sunderland Vibe is an award-winning publication that celebrates the very best of Sunderland and its communities.

Check out our recent video where we showcase our magazine, visit Wearside’s most loved businesses and celebrate the local people behind them. Created by Allies Group.


What’s on display? 


Hourglass by artist Katie Paterson on display at Durham Cathedral Picture: DAVID WOOD


Ryan Gander

Ghost Shop



Ryan Gander’s commission is a life-sized abandoned betting shop, created in glass, and sited in a vacated tanning salon on High Street West in Sunderland city centre.

Ghost Shop has all fixtures and fittings made in clear glass, including details such as an upturned bin spilling out discarded betting slips, and a pile of unopened letters sitting by the doorway.

The entire project clocked in at around 100 days and with the display now installed, Ghost Shop has been sealed shut – meaning no one can enter or leave. An inner-city time capsule if you like. 

Ryan said: 

“It’s been a pleasure to work in Sunderland and the team at National Glass Centre – who are just insanely talented. No one else in the UK would have been capable of producing the work. 

National Glass Centre is a unique place, there’s nowhere else with the knowledge, skills or network.

I’ve been in Sunderland for about three weeks working on the installation and people have been so friendly and interested in what we’re doing. People here have time for each other here and they’re far more approachable.”

Ryan explained the reason for choosing a betting shop for his subject: 

“Betting shops are beckoning doors of illicit sin, like somewhere in Soho, and the shop fronts are covered so you never know what’s going on inside. There’s a certain mystery to them.

People validate and quantify art by the number of people counted as seeing the art, but I’m more impressed with artwork that still bothers people when they’re returning home on the bus, or still want to tell their friends about it two years later.”


Monster Chetwynd

The Life of St. Bede


Monster Chetwynd’s dioramas of Bede and St Cuthbert on display inside the Galilee Chapel at Durham Cathedral Picture: DAVID WOOD


Monster Chetwynd’s commission, The Life of St Bede, is sited in the timeless beauty of Durham Cathedral. 

Her work features four colourful and imaginative dioramas capturing key scenes from the life of St Bede. Chetwynd’s commission is on display in the Galilee Chapel at Durham Cathedral until Sunday, September 11 2022.

Monster said:

“The dedicated hours that have gone into the art pieces feel enormous. There were site visits and many exchanges of ‘problem-solving’ over two years. I made cardboard models to 1:1 scale and the same again in fired clay.

The assembling of the hot glass and lamp work only finally came together very recently.

The team I worked with through the National Glass Centre  – Julia Stephenson, James Maskrey, Ayako Tani, Kalki Mansel – have been brilliant, sincere and earnest in marrying and merging my ideas. I am impressed and feel ‘high’ from the collaboration.”


Katie Paterson

Requiem & The Moment


Hourglass by artist Katie Paterson on display at Durham Cathedral Picture: DAVID WOOD


Award-winning Glaswegian-born artist, Katie Paterson, is also displaying an evocative piece in Durham Cathedral. 

Renowned for her work that challenges humans’ place on Earth within the context of time, Katie is delivering two inter-related projects that tell the story of earthly existence. 

The first display involves a series of hand-blown hourglasses containing material from before the Sun existed; and a glass urn filled with dust that spans billions of years including the evolution of humankind over the last few millennia.

Requiem will be available to view at National Glass Centre from Saturday, June 18, until Sunday, September 11, 2022.

A timepiece, from the series, The Moment, will be displayed at Durham Cathedral and National Glass Centre.

Katie said:

“It’s been a joy to work with master glass blower James Maskrey, who has translated my scraps of ideas into beautifully crafted objects. 

I’ve never before had the opportunity to work in hot glass, so to be able to work with James at this level, in a world-class centre of glass making, has been a privilege.

James has made more than 400 glass objects for Requiem, and has really pushed the limits of scale whilst retaining a delicacy of the forms. I’m really happy with the results.”


Pascale Marthine Tayou

Colonial Ghost


Colonial Ghost by artist Pascale Marthine Tayou on display at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland Picture: DAVID WOOD


Acclaimed Cameroonian artist, Pascale Marthine Tayou, has created Colonial Ghost; a fascinating display of 160 figurines – each of which, displays a unique personality and sense of identity. 

With Colonial Ghost, Pascale invites the viewer to consider connections between colonisation and the growth of Christianity in African countries through the context of a global village. 

Each of the figures has been painstakingly hand-finished by James Maskrey and Kalkie Mansell with details such as briefcases, binoculars, satchels, ties and more. 

Following its recent display at Sunderland Minster, Colonial Ghost is shown running the full length of National Glass Centre’s Balcony Gallery until Sunday, September 11.


A truly inspiring exhibition… 


Rebecca Ball, Chief Executive at Sunderland Culture, which has delivered the project, said: 

“We’re thrilled and proud with the results of Glass Exchange. As the title of the project suggests, this was about an exchange of ideas, creativity and knowledge between four of the country’s most respected contemporary artists and our uniquely talented team of glass makers at National Glass Centre.

The results are truly inspiring and the diversity of the responses to our original brief is amazing. 

We’re hugely grateful to the artists, the fantastic venues we’ve worked with and our team led by Julia Stephenson, James Maskrey and Erin Dickson. 

The way in which our team realised the ideas and creativity of our artists was outstanding.

Glass Exchange is an exciting, ambitious series of exhibitions which is understandably attracting national attention and I urge people to go and see it.”

For further details, visit:


Will you be visiting Glass Exchange Sunderland? Get in touch online. Twitter: @SunderlandVibe, Instagram: @SunderlandVibe, Facebook: @SunderlandVibe.

Facebook Comments