Manuela Kagerbauer recently graduated from UCA Farnham with an MA in Jewellery. She takes inspiration from the early symptoms of Macular Degeneration, which is a common age-related eye disorder. People with this sight deficiency can experience warped lines and movement in their vision, like an optical illusion. Manuela has researched optical illusions, op art, and artists like Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely for background to her work. Looking at the physical reactions of the body when confused by a visual distorted message clarified that she needed to create experiences that involve both the body and mind of the spectator. The outcomes are fully immersive installations made from metal and glass. She fills the space in between, and with that the viewer becomes a participator.
I create interactive installations working with metal, glass, and mixed media. These are inspired by optical illusions, op art, and symptoms of Macular Degeneration.
My new work ‘Enter a New Dimension’ is an installation consisting of 32 glass tiles with Copper inclusions, made entirely from recycled materials. The commercially sized subway tiles are aligned to create a mind-blowing geometric pattern.
Whilst I was exhibiting in London, Extinction Rebellion were having their first big Demo. Witnessing this made me want to change my way of thinking, along with my way of creating art. The carbon footprint of glass art is enormous, if I could use glass that is nearby then I could create a more sustainable way of incorporating glass into my artwork.
Over the past five months, I have been working on a new installation, whilst setting myself the challenge of working with recycled glass and metal. I was given a box of beautiful Copper foil by Goodfellow to play with. I chose to cut the foil into 5mm thin strips, which was a tedious task but necessary. I found that playing around with patterns and the Copper strips reminded me of some tape art I had done in the past.
I posted a “wanted” advert on Freecycle for old greenhouse glass and limited my travel to a five-mile radius, my intention being to use materials that would have otherwise ended up in landfill. I got multiple replies from people who were happy that their waste would be recycled and used in an art project.
Working with greenhouse glass is challenging because compatibility and stability can be an issue. Before I used the glass, I cleaned it with rainwater I had collected, to keep waste to a minimum. After uncountable unsuccessful firings in the kiln, I finally had the beautiful colourations of Copper I had wanted, which was a major breakthrough for the project.
Aligning the subway tiles and creating a geometrical repeat pattern seemed like the logical next step, creating in modules with glass makes the weight more distributed – and here it is!
“Witnessing this made me want to change my way of thinking, along with my way of creating art”