Play With Glass
– European Glass Festival / 2017

In contemporary art, glass is a material that artists, often outstanding, of different disciplines, are increasingly attracted to.

Glass is the subject of numerous symposia, festivals, workshops, exhibitions, artistic activities, organised around the world. In addition to those existing, already entered into the calendar of events, new ones are coming, which sometimes succeed in staying longer. On the map of the most important artistic events related to the art of glass, there has recently been the Play with Glass – European Glass Festival. Organised this year for the sixth time, it has gained enormous popularity in Wrocław, Europe, and the world.

As dean of the Faculty of Ceramics and Glass of the E. Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław, and at the same time a glass artist, I participate in many glass projects. On the occasion of these meetings, we always discuss the past and future of artistic glass – we contemplate the direction of its development. Are glass objects, made using traditional techniques, lost to the past? How will this medium be exploited by the young generation of artists, having at their disposal the technological and artistic potential of the 21st century?

The Play with Glass – European Glass Festival has for 5 years been "out lining" the possibilities that glass creates in artistic creativity. Artists invited to participate in the main and accompanying exhibitions of the Festival are representatives of 3 generations. This is because we want to show that the changes in contemporary art also apply to glass.

84 exhibitors from 37 European countries have taken part in the main exhibitions of the five editions of the Festival. Each of them has become an ambassador for our activities. We have become a recognised event among artists and institutions in many countries. To some extent, an institution that sets the direction and trends.

We receive ever more requests from the whole world for the next Festival, its programme, the opportunity to participate in exhibitions. Organised groups of collectors and glass lovers come to Wrocław to participate in all Festival events.

We have opened Wrocław to Beauty – we have filled Wrocław with Glass! And each year we ask ourselves the same questions – can we undertake to organise the next European Glass Festival with such a broad response and interest and lack of adequate funding?

Without a proper budget, we will not be able to continue the activities that promote Wrocław and Lower Silesia in Poland, Europe and the world...

Professor Kazimierz Pawlak, co-organiser of the Festival

Gold of Lower Silesia

For the sixth time, thanks to the passion of Anita Bialic and Professor Kazimierz Pawlak, the Play with Glass – European Glass Festival – has been organised in Wrocław. In the past five years, artistic glass devotees, not only in Wrocław, have been able to admire the latest works of more than 80 artists from 37 European countries.

Glass is a remarkable material – difficult, but offering huge creative opportunities for the artist. Glass traditions in Silesia go back to the Middle Ages. The Giant and Jizera Mountains, especially in the 17th and 18th centuries, were known not only in Europe for producing glass of excellent quality. The story of the glassworks of this area, on both sides of the border, has had its ups and downs. The Jeleniogórska Basin, however, suffered the biggest loss with the liquidation of the Julia Glassworks in Szklarska Poręba. In the early 1990s, the most active and well-known glass-making centre, which had concentrated and inspired many generations of glass artists and designers, disappeared. The 90s were also difficult for glassworks in the Czech Giant Mountains. But nowadays, for the development of glass and related cultural tourism, our neighbours work in all communities, supported by local and national authorities: artists, artisans, glassworks large and small, museums and galleries. In Novy Bor, the town where the Karkonosze Museum in Jelenia Góra has been cooperating for many years, and in its vicinity, there are about 130 entities operating. Like wise, a powerful centre is Železný Brod, the mecca of Czech glassworks. In the Czech Giant Mountains, glass is most important – even the smallest towns promote the region by cultivating and using their glass traditions. On the Polish side of the Giant and Jizera Mountains, the ”gold of Lower Silesia”, as glass is known here, is still waiting for its chance. We have great potential, and the biggest is the glass tradition of Lower Silesia. In the Giant Mountains and their foothills, there are glassworks: the Julia Glassworks in Piechowice (a former branch of the Julia Glassworks in Szklarska Poręba), Studio Borowski in Tomaszów Bolesławiecki, and the Leśna Glassworks in Szklarska Poręba; glass art studios and galleries. The glass traditions are popularised by the Karkonosze Museum in Jelenia Góra, with the largest and most beautiful collection of artistic glass in Poland. At the E. Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław, Poland’s only Department of Ceramics and Glass functions. Its graduates set up galleries and design studios.

In the development plans of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship, the development of tourism using the cultural heritage of the region is taken account of. This is, without doubt, glass. Does this mean that glass will finally get its chance?

The European Glass Festival has attracted to Wrocław and Jelenia Góra, where major festival exhibitions have also been presented, glass lovers not only from Lower Silesia but from all over Poland and Europe. It is high time for all of those for whom glass is important to meet and make joint efforts to promote glass and create a new tourist product for Polish and foreign tourists – the Lower Silesian glass route.

Gabriela Zawiła, director of the Karkonosze Museum in Jelenia Góra


Play With Glass
 – European Glass Festival / 2016

Dr Jekyll and Mrs Hyde – the main exhibition – curator: Anita Bialic
17.10.2016 – 10.11.2016 – Wrocław, 17.11.2016 – 10.12.2016 – Łódź, 16.12.2016 – 29.01.2017  Legnica, 16.12.2016 – 29.01.2017 –  Jelenia Góra, 03.02.2017 – 2.04.2017

For the fifth time running, glass artists and enthusiasts will be meeting from 15–23 October in Wrocław for the Play with Glass – European Glass Festival. With every passing year the festival excites more interest in Poland and abroad. It is steadily becoming one of Europe’s most important glass art events.

We invite outstanding European glass artists crossing three generations to take part in the festival. In this way, we seek to show the great opportunities glass can provide artists. At the same time, we track the changes that have occurred in the use of this material over the space of the past few decades.

The most important event of the Play with Glass – European Glass Festival is the main exhibition, devoted to a different theme every year, presented at the historical Session Hall at Wrocław’s Main Railway Station, the City Art Gallery in Łódź, the Karkonosze Museum in Jelenia Góra, and the Art Gallery in Legnica. This year’s main exhibition, Dr Jekyll and Mrs Hyde, will be accompanied by displays organized at ten Wrocław galleries, including the Debut Festival at the Arttrakt Gallery, presenting work by a young Czech designer, Sebastián Kitzberger, nominated in 2015 for the Discovery of the Year, the Czech Grand Design Awards, and Where is my Paradise?, a solo exhibition by an outstanding German-based Japanese artist, Shige Fujishiro, at the SiC! BWA Wrocław Gallery.

The festival will also include an international seminar on European glass art and numerous arts and education projects, including: Glass in Wrocław’s Urban Space, Glass Display Case, The Glass Bus, and an Open House in Lower Silesian glass workshops and studios. In the Glass Display project students of the Glass Department of the E.Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław participate. The rector of the Academy, Professor Piotr Kielan, will select what in his opinion are the most interesting and original window displays. The presentation of the prize, which he funded himself, will take place at the official opening of the Transfer exhibition of Antonina Joszczuk.

Every year the festival program is joined by more Wrocław galleries and glass artists, and new projects are initiated, including the Glass Picnic – the study trip organized this year is for journalists and artists taking part in the festival, as well as for specially invited guests; we will be going to the Karkonosze Museum in Jelenia Góra and Studio Borowski in Tomaszów Bolesławiecki.

During the four editions of the European Play with Glass Festival, the main exhibitions have been held in six cities: in Wrocław, Krakow, Łódź, Jelenia Góra, Legnica, and Krosno. Participants have included sixty-six artists from thirty-two European countries, many of whom are renowned even outside of the continent.

It is our hope that this fifth anniversary edition of the European Glass Festival will only confirm its place as an important and valuable artistic event on the European art market. We also hope that it will finally allow us to find financial support for future editions of the project.

Anita Bialic, Kazimierz Pawlak


Play With Glass
 – European Glass Festival / 2015

LOVE – the main exhibition
12.10.2015 – 10.11.2015 – Wrocław, 19.11.2015 – 16.12.2015 – Łódź, 23.01.2016 – 21.02.2016 – Jelenia Góra, 04.03.2016 – 10.04.2016 – Legnica

The choice of Wrocław as the venue for the European Festival of Glass Play with Glass was not accidental. The history of glass in Poland is closely connected with the area of ​​Lower Silesia – glassworks were created here in the Middle Ages. It is also at the E. Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław that Poland’s only Department of Ceramics and Glass has been operating since 1946. And it is in Lower Silesia: in Wrocław, Jelenia Góra, and Kłodzko, that there are museum collections of historic and contemporary glass, and just 100 km from Wrocław the world famous Studio Borowski is located.

The uniqueness of the festival stems from the subject it relates to. In Polish art, glass is completely ignored. Objects made of glass or using glass in their creation are not displayed at exhibitions, and do not appear in art auctions, or museums or private collections. At the same time, in European and world art, glass is a material which prominent artists working in a variety of artistic techniques look to. They create extraordinary works: images, sculptures, installations and videos, architectural objects, and design. Just such works are presented at the festival’s main exhibition, with a different theme each year, and at accompanying exhibitions.

The artists participating in the main exhibition of the European Festival of Glass Play with Glass represent 3 generations. This is because we want to show that the changes in contemporary art also apply to glass. The static block has been replaced by the dynamic object, the installation, and the multimedia presentation. The prominent contemporary artists using glass as the material for their work, rarely “sculpt”, as do Peter Bremers of the Netherlands and Latchezar Boyadjiev from Bulgaria, currently residing in the USA. They yank it, pull it, combine it with other materials, and their work is often documented on video. This dynamic method of creation is represented most fully by Maria Bang Espersen, a Danish artist who, after last year’s success in Coburg, where she received the Coburg Glaspreis Special Jury Prize 2014 and this year’s award in the “Talent” category granted by the Jutta Cuny-Franz Foundation, entered the “salons” of European and global glass as a star.

As participants in the main exhibitions we have invited both artists/experimenters looking for new and original forms of using glass in their art, such as Emma Woffenden from the UK, and also prominent “artisans”, who have worked consistently throughout their artistic lives using the same technique, such as Petr Stacho, who create stunning works of form and colour.

The festival also hosts an international seminar devoted to European art glass and the Debut exhibition. Other events include the Glass Display Case project, an Open House at the Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław, a Studio Open House for glass artists from Wrocław and Lower Silesia, Wrocław – A Microcosmos of Events – art workshops for “difficult young people” and families with children, a walk through Wrocław on the “glass architecture route”, a Glass Bus.

The European Festival of Glass is Poland’s first professionally prepared presentation of European art glass. We hope, as its originators and organizers, that it will soon become one of the most important art glass-related events in Europe.

Anita Bialic / September 2015


Play With Glass
 – European Glass Festival / 2014

Animal Planet – the main exhibition
13.10.2014 – 31.10.2014 – Wrocław, 15.11.2014 – 13.12.2014 – Łódź, 2.01.2015 – 27.01.2015 – Legnica, 31.01.2015 – 29.03.2015 – Jelenia Góra

A fantastic initiative. A cosmic atmosphere and close encounter of the third kind with art that brings the whole family together. BRAVO... Viewing this exhibition you can forget about the problems all around us. It is splendid... Pleasing to the eye and soothing to the soul. A beautiful exhibition...

Will Animal Planet, the main exhibition of the 3rd edition of the Play with Glass European Glass Festival, stoke the same enthusiasm that UFO Unique Form Object did last year at Wrocław’s Main Station?

Surprise and delight at the fact that glass is such an unusual material, that it creates so many opportunities for artistic expression, are the finest rewards for the enormous amount of work and effort we put into preparing the festival events.

The Play with Glass European Glass Festival is not only the main exhibition, featuring eighteen artists from fourteen European countries (last year it was sixteen participants from twelve countries), hosted once more by the 19th century Wrocław Central Train Station. It is also exhibitions featuring Polish and European artists who create one-of-a-kind objects made of or using glass, an international seminar devoted to the European art of glass at the E. Geppert Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław, meetings with artists…

The festival will also include the Glass Display Case project, an Open House at the Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław, a Studio Open House for glass artists from Wrocław and Lower Silesia, Wrocław - A Microcosmos of Events - art workshops for “difficult young people” and families with children, a walk through Wrocław on the “glass architecture route,” and a Glass Bus.

The Glass Display Case project was set in motion by students from the Faculty of Ceramics and Glass at the Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław as a joint project. Entering the “living” space of the city with their projects, they could see the direct impact of their work on the viewer. The store or cafe display windows on busy streets provide significantly greater opportunities for public presentation than a gallery or museum.

Glass in Wrocław’s Urban Space is a totally new project, for there had never before been literature available on Wrocław’s glass architecture. We have described 54 of Wrocław’s glass architectural works. Fourteen of these are on Wrocław’s first “glass route.” We decided to bring them to light and make an inventory of the glass artwork in the city’s public buildings and churches, on its squares and streets... We had to do some meticulous detective work to track down the creators of these glass works of art and check all the information they passed down. We hope that the Wrocław Old Town Glass Route will be one of the most important attractions in Wrocław, the “city of glass.”

The Play with Glass European Glass Festival is generating increasing interest in Wrocław and Lower Silesia, and also throughout Poland and abroad. The enormous popularity of the material we post on Facebook and the numerous comments we receive from around the world have convinced us that we are doing vital work in popularizing glass as an important medium in contemporary art.

Anita Bialic, Kazimierz Pawlak / August 2014


Play With Glass
 – European Glass Festival / 2012

Fun, Joke, Surprise – the main exhibition
16.10.2012 – 10.11.2012 – Wrocław, 19.11.2012 – 31.12.2012 – Kraków, 10.01.2013 – 26.03.2013 – Krosno

In Fun, Joke, Surprise, the main exhibition at the 1st edition of the Play with Glass – European Glass Festival in Wrocław,
15 artists from 11 European countries proved that glass is an extraordinary material. What splendid form and colours! … Works fashioned with imagination and soul … At last, glass! If only there were more glass exhibitions of this type. Fantastic! … Bravo! A dream exhibition! … Very inspiring and original … As beautiful and fragile as life … We collected hundreds of expressions of delight and thanks in the “exhibition comments book”.

The European Glass Festival, which was organised for the first time last year in Wrocław, attracted a huge amount of interest. It was in the capital of Lower Silesia, a region with a rich tradition in glass, where glassworks were operating as early as the Middle Ages and Poland’s only Ceramics and Glass Department at Wrocław’s Academy of Fine Arts was opened in 1946,
that the first professionally prepared presentation of European art glass took place.

The Fun, Joke, Surprise exhibition, presented at Wrocław’s main station in the freshly renovated 19th century 2nd class waiting room, was viewed over 3 weeks by 8000 people! After a brief stay in the halls of the Bąkowski, D. Chazan and Co. Kraków Glassworks, at Lipowa 2 in Kraków, the Fun, Joke, Surprise exhibition ended up at the Glass Heritage Centre
in Krosno, where it stayed for 3 months…

The other festival events also attracted the interest of the inhabitants of Wrocław and Lower Silesia. The seminar, numerous exhibitions, Glass Window project, Open Day at the Glass and Ceramics Department at Wrocław’s Academy of Art and Design, (Un)classical Stained Glass – a lecture given by Beata Stankiewicz-Szczerbik at St Matthew’s Church, Studio Open Day, glass workshops and the Glass Architecture Trail, a walking tour of Wrocław… every day brought fresh attractions and surprises.

The Play with Glass – European Glass Festival in Wrocław was included in Wrocław’s application for the title of European Capital of Culture 2016, one of only 40 projects selected from among 160 applicants. We were granted a large budget for its implementation. Unfortunately, this turned out to only exist on paper…

We would not have been able to organise the first edition of the European Glass Festival were it not for our determination
and Prof. Kazimierz Pawlak’s contacts and standing within the European glass world… We would not have been able to prepare a “glass festival” in Wrocław without the support of Jarosław Broda, the Director of the Department of Culture of the Municipality of Wrocław, Prof. Piotr Kielan, rector of the Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław, and Piotr Wieczorek, chairman of the Association of Polish Artists and Designers in Wrocław… We would not have been able to complete all these projects without the selfless help of Urszula Łączna, Monika Muszyńska, Ewelina Kwiatkowska, Justyna Turek, Ania Gałuszka, Monika Rubaniuk, Aleksandra Bis. And the main exhibition at Wrocław’s station would not have garnered so many positive comments if it had not been for the original plinths and exhibition design by Tomek Wójcik…

We now hope that the Play with Glass – European Glass Festival in Wrocław will shortly become one of the most important events associated with glass art in Europe.

Anita Bialic   

About First Edition of the Festival

October 15th, 2012, Wroclaw Main Station. Routine buzz - the whispered concerns of passersby, pigeons cooing, dogs barking and the sound of luggage wheels…the polyphony typical of stations. All of this exudes some kind of magic, gives some special feeling.

We are looking for something you would never expect to find in such a place. It’s really surprising! The old waiting-room with its green walls, gold-plated columns and ceiling, sophisticated ornaments and tracery...The lights are on, the participants buzz…

The hall slowly fills with admirers of glass, the purely curious and special guests. Talks, participant presentations… Smiles, hugs, handshakes, the rustling pages of a new catalogue still smelling of ink. Everyone here can find himself, a friend, or just a favourite artist. “What’s going on here, what brings all these different people here?” you want to ask...

Glass! This has brought everyone together into one big family.  A glass family, unifying so many people, different in age, nationality, geography, style, technique, school!

News about one more emerging significant event, the Play with Glass – European Glass Festival in Wrocław, has brought joy. What’s more, I was delighted to find out that I’d been invited to this first festival, too. There are only a few big events in the glass world, so each of them is a great feast for glass artists. Unusually, this festival’s main exhibition had a theme – Fun, Joke, Surprise. That is a certain challenge for the artist. I started to prepare, to think, to contemplate with excitement and responsibility...

What was even more exciting: the conference, covering exhibitions, glass workshops, and other events. It’s good that the festival not only involved glass makers (it was a great opportunity to meet each other, to share ideas, to show new pieces),
but also students and others interested. Without doubt the event was helpful for the spread of glass art.

Play with Glass – European Glass Festival in Wroclaw is a serious show in the glass world, and its first steps are purposeful and courageous. Led by unfading enthusiasm, energy and a great idea, the organizers laid the foundations for a serious event which is intended to become a prestigious event further afield than just Wroclaw, Poland, in fact across the whole glass world.

I feel like screaming “see you soon” !!!

Indrė Stulgaitė-Kriukienė    

A year ago I was invited to take part in the European Glass Festival in Wrocław. I felt honoured that I was among the first artists to be chosen to participate in this first leg of the planned exhibitions.

The two main organizers, Anita Bialic and Kazimierz Pawlak, did a great job! Anyone who has ever organized such an event knows how many problems must be solved before the exhibition can be opened to visitors. In addition, a nice catalogue was also printed.

Wrocław is a natural centre for Lower Silesian cultural events, and is very important in the history of glassmaking in Poland. This event was a very good opportunity to remember this great tradition and to open the doors to international meeting and cooperation!

I wish the organizers another awesome success and enough support and energy to continue with this remarkable event!

František Janák  

Play With Glass – European Glass Festival in Wrocław / 2012
Fun, Joke, Surprise – the main exhibition
16.10. – 10.11.2012 – Wrocław, 19.11. – 31.12.2012 – Kraków, 10.01. – 26.03.2013 – Krosno

Andriy Bokotey – Ukraine; Péter Borkovics – Hungary; Paweł Borowski – Poland; Beata Damian-Speruda – Poland; Lachezar Dochev – Bulgaria; Pati Dubiel – Poland; Matt Durran – Great Britain; Alexandru Ghildus – Romania; Patrik Illo – Slovakia; František Janák – Czech Republic; Vladimir Klein – Czech Republic; Remigijus Kriukas – Lithuania; Nicolas Morin – France; Kazushi Nakada – Finland; Indrė Stulgaitė-Kriukienė – Lithuania