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The Glass Blower’s Domain

Part 1 Project 2011
Joseph Warner
Northumbria University Newcastle upon Tyne UK
A Glass Blower’s Domain

“We all know how ships are born, how majestic vessels are nudged into the ocean with a bottle of champagne. But few of us know how they die. Hundreds of ships meet their death every year. From five-star Ocean liners, to grubby freighters, literally dumped with all their steel, their asbestos, their toxins on the beaches of some of the poorest countries in the world. With the smoke, the fumes, and the heat, it could be as close as you’ll get to hell on earth.”

Bob Simon, CBS News, on 60 Minutes, November 2006

The decline of the shipbuilding industry has left the once proud town of South Shields with some of the highest unemployment rates in the UK.

My current project investigates how asbestos within redundant ships can be recycled into glass, through thermal decomposition. Taking a harmful and worthless material and transforming it into a beautiful object, through glass blowing.

The project deals with the preservation of a post-industrial shipyard situated along the river Tyne. The re-use of the former Middle Dock to decommission ships and transform hazardous asbestos will provide valuable jobs for the local community.

“ Technique moves deft touches of beauty, In Murano reverence walks winding streets, In Venice’s shadow islands lay just claim, Here seated is the Glass Blower’s Domain.”

Joseph Warner


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