Monday, June 20, 2011

Closure of Monash University Glass Studio a Tragedy

21 June 2011
Dear Clients


Those of you who have a penchant for reading The Melbourne Age's 'Letters to the Editor' would find an edited version of a letter to The Editor in today's edition of The Age.  The letter and the signatories thereto, in its unabridged version, is re-printed below:

17 June 2011
Letters Editor
The Age
 PO Box 257
 Melbourne VIC 3001
Dear Sir  
Closure of Monash University Glass Studio must be reversed
The proposed closure of the Monash Art & Design Glass Studio highlights the fragile nature of Victoria's fine arts heritage.
Instead of closing this major part of Victoria's art infrastructure, Monash University should be leveraging on the positives of this internationally recognised school and be working to keep it open in conjunction with government agencies and community stakeholders.
This is a glass studio with a significant thirty one year history in the development of glass art in Australia. It represents 25% of the teaching capacity in Australia and the only facility in Victoria.
As the closure is based on a lack of students it is quite clear a recruitment campaign is needed with Monash University and Ausglass, the national industry body, creating a wider awareness of the opportunities for future glass artists.
"The Monash Glass School offers courses for talented students, which are professional, flexible, contemporary and relevant. The faculty produces skilled graduates who shape the future of art and design practice nationally, and on the International stage." These words on Monash University's own website describe accurately the important role the Monash Glass facility plays in the development of Art Glass in Australia.
The University, in conjunction with State and Federal Government agencies, should hold negotiations to look at the positive ways Monash University can undertake to keep the Monash Glass School open for future generations of glass artists.
Once it is closed, the door not only closes on today's glass artists, Monash University will close the doors on generations of Glass Artists. 
Yours sincerely
Peter Kolliner OAM, Director, Kirra Galleries
Marcia Bacon, Director, Seaview Gallery
Tali Dalton, Director, Healesville Glassblowing Studio
Eileen Gordon, Director, Gordon Studio Glassblowers
Bev Kenna, Director, Axia Modern Art
Veronica Kukawski, Director, Veronica George Gallery
Denise Orchard, Director, Glass Plus Gallery
Stuart Purves, Director, Australian Galleries
Philip Stokes, Director, Philip Stokes Studio Glass
Joanne Wolswinkel, Director, Town & Country Gallery

The closure of the studio is a big retrograde step for art in Victoria particularly and art in Australia in general.

Inexorable budgetary measures are being forced upon Universities who, by dint of necessity, respond by closing courses where income through students attending is below the cost of running them.  A vicious circle of cost cuts result in the downgrading of the prominence of courses, which in turn result in declining student numbers resulting in further cost cuts.  This causes Universities' decisions to narrow the spectra of courses offered, and this time it is Monash's Glass Studio which is scheduled to be wiped off the map.

There are four (4) universities offering the studies of glass art in Australia and prominent among these has been Monash.  The closure of this studio which was decided upon in 2010 but not announced until a few weeks ago, will reduce the number of teaching facilities to three (3). 

Ausglass (the Australian Association of Glass Artists) has today issued a news blast to its members in which item 1 reads, in part:

"Monash Website and Petition: Ausglass is proud to announce that in partnership with the National Tertiary Education Union an autonomous website has been set up is now operational and a hub of background information, and the latest news.
This beautiful site makes it easy to sign petitions, get background information and lodge your support. It is still in the process of completion but all links are functional and we urge you to have a look and to make use of it."
No decision is irreversible and this one must be reversed.

This letter is sent to all of our clients who have registered their names and email addresses with us, and therefore we presume that you are interested in saving the Monash University Glass Studio.

Please take a moment of your time to visit the website mentioned above, specifically built for the purpose of having the decision reversed.  If you agree that the Monash Glass teaching facility should be retained please sign the petition at  If you have friends, acquaintances, or organisations who you think are interested in maintaining Australia's prominence in the World of Art Glass, please forward this email to them.

Universities are there to teach and not merely to cover ever shrinking budgets.  If the current trend is allowed to continue, Victoria will degenerate into a bland, colourless, tasteless, odourless and uniformly grey society.

Yours sincerely

Peter Kolliner OAM