Artist's Statement

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Shelley trained in textiles in Paris and began her career as a design consultant for international brands including Visa International, Shell and Cancer Research UK. She returned to university to learn about digital production techniques and started to experiment with printmaking and glass. Shelley was fascinated by the compelling visual illusions generated by this remarkable material and started to work with scientists to understand and explore these phenomena.

She holds a PhD from the Royal College of Art, and City and Guilds qualifications in electrical installations and on-site testing.  She is Associate Artist at King’s College, London and at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of London. Recent activity includes the Jerwood Maker’s Award, the Medical Research Council Centenary and Utopia exhibitions at Somerset House, the Royal Society Summer Science Festival, Collect at the Saatchi Gallery, V&A Digital Design Weekend and the European Conference on Visual Perception, Berlin.

Artist statement

I am constantly delighted by the power of glass to shed a fresh light on the everyday and the extraordinary – from the way a straw appears to break or bend when dipped in a tumbler full of water to the discovery of the structure of DNA through crystallography. I work with scientists and other experts to understand the underlying principles and their wider historical and philosophical context. I combine traditional glass making and emerging digital technologies to interpret these phenomena through the material and optical properties of glass, often testing the limits of this beautiful and versatile medium.  Sharing discoveries through public engagement, exhibitions, writing and teaching is a vital and rewarding dimension of my practice.

Current projects include constructing quasi-periodic symmetries with Sir Roger Penrose and Professor Brian Sutton, designing a new Artificial Anatomies course at King’s College, and analyzing the optical properties of glass spinning tops with Professor Ken Brecher of Boston University.






City and Guilds Electrical Installations 2365-02
2017City and Guilds In-service Inspection of Electrical Equipment 2377-22
2009 - 2014PhD, Royal College of Art, London
2006UWE, Bristol: MA multidisciplinary printmaking (distinction)
1988Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs, Paris: Diplome Textiles (merit)


December 2016 to present
Associate, King's College, London
September 2016 to presentAssociate Artist, Institute of Philosophy, University of London
May 2016 to presentVisiting Lecturer, Institute of Making, UCL
January 2013 to February 2017Visiting Lecturer. Royal College of Art, London
Sept 2006 to presentArtist in Residence, Bristol Eye Hospital, Bristol
November 2005 to presentWellcome Trust Image Library represented artist
2008 to 2009Crafts Council Artist in Residence, University for the Creative Arts, Farnham
2005 to 2008Sci-Art Research Fellow, University of the West of England, Bristol
2003 to 2005Technical instructor, University of the West of England, Bristol
2003 to 2005Visiting artist, National Glass Centre, Sunderland
1996 to 2003Senior Account Director for Imagination design agency, London
1994 to 1996Account Manager, Coley Porter Bell design agency, London
1992 to 1994Business development manager, The Partners design agency, London
1988 to 1990Freelance identity consultant for Visa International, San Francisco
1983 to 1988Freelance illustrator, Paris

Selected recent projects and exhibitions

V&A Digital Design weekend, interactive installation V&A, London
Reciprocal Space. The Knowledge Exchange Collaborative Award with Leeds University
Stepping out. solo exhibition, Lingelbach Scheune, Munich
Paths to Utopia, group exhibition, Somerset House, London
Critic’s Circle Award for Art and Architecture, commission, London
Parallel Practices Residency, King's College, London and Crafts Council.
Art of glass, schools art project and exhibition, Bow Arts, London.
2015Gaze, solo exhibition and performance, Circus Gallery, London.
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, performance, Huddersfield.
Shifting Ground, installation, psychology experiment and presentation at the European Conference on Visual Perception, installation, Universities of London and Liverpool.
Catching the Light staff and patient engagement programme, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London.
Essences, group exhibition, London Glassblowing Studio, London.
London British Glass Biennale, group exhibition. Stourbridge
Collect, with Sarah Myerscough at the Saatchi Gallery, London.
2014Jerwood Maker's Award, Jerwood Space, London
Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, London.
UK Glass, Glazenhuis, Lommel, Belgium.
Between the lines, Hospital Club, London.
DNA and Crystallography, Gordon Museum of Natural History, London.
Crystal symmetries I and II, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford.
Resonant Spaces, collaboration and performance, University of Leeds.
2013Artist in Residence, Corning Studio, New York
Rising Stars group exhibition curated by Saatchi Gallery for Selfridges
Illusions, Science Gallery Dublin. 11 July -29 September.
Op Art and Mechanical Reproduction Seminar, Impact08 conference, Dundee Scotland
2012Resonant spaces, solo show of musical instruments, workshops and performances, Bate
Collection of Musical Instruments, September 2011 to November 2012
Illusoriamente exhibition, European Convention on Visual Perception, Sardinia, September 2012
RE Open , Royal Society of Painter Printmaker exhibition, London, August 2012
Peter Layton Summer Show , London Glassblowing Studio, August 2012
Festival of Nature commission for Bristol University, Bristol, July 2012
Trauma exhibition and panel discussion, GV Art Gallery, London, May 2012
Ceramic Art London exhibition, Royal College of Art, London, March 2012
Nature Nurture, teaching programme at the Bristol Royal Infirmary Children’s Hospital, April to June 2012
2011Nature Nurture architectural glass commission, Bristol Eye Hospital, June
Through a glass, Crafts Council handling collection commission, February
Faith, purchased by Sunderland Museum Glass Collection, February
Ceramic Art London exhibition, RCA London, February
Breathtaking Crafts Council national touring exhibition, from January
2010Narratives in healthcare, AHRC-funded cultural exchange and summer school, Tsinghua University, Beijing, September
Acquired immunity , solo exhibition and workshops, RNIB Bristol and Royal London
Homeopathic Hospital public engagement events, London, May to June
ReCollect group exhibition, Peter Layton Glass Studio, London, May
2009‘Printing with light’ Crafts Council-funded research, January to September
• Exhibition: Crafts Study Centre, Farnham, June to September
• Papers: International Glass Arts Conference, Swansea Institute for the Arts Architectural
• Glass Review, Digital Technology in Contemporary Crafts Seminar, Farnham, June 2009 to September
• Workshops: Bristol Eye Hospital, RNIB, University for the Creative Arts Farnham, Festival of Ideas Guildford, June to September
• Online: Contemporary Glass Society and Arts Council websites
‘Iris’ Ophthalmic Imaging Association commission, July
2008Royal West of England Academy selected exhibition, Bristol, December
‘New Approaches to Ageing’ convener of conference and interdisciplinary exhibition sponsored by BRACE (Bristol Research into Alzheimers and Care of the Elderly), August to November
‘Second Sight’ solo exhibition and workshop sponsored by RNIB, University of Bristol,
UWE and Dana Alliance, May
Originals ‘07 , selected exhibition, Mall Galleries, London, January
2006‘Emerging Glass Artists’ group exhibition, NGRC, Sunderland, September
‘Rising Stars’ group exhibition, Oxo Tower, London, September
‘Spirit of ITV’ commission and exhibition, April
‘Brainworks’ panel debate, Dana Centre, January
Originals ‘06 , selected exhibition, Mall Galleries, London, January
2005Royal West of England Academy selected exhibition, Bristol, December
’Original / Reproduction’ group exhibition, Prague, September
Novartis-Daily Telegraph Visions of Science Award , London, September
‘Viewfinder’ , solo exhibition, IMAX Bristol, July
Originals ‘05 , selected exhibition, Mall Galleries, London, January
© Shelley James 2014