Come celebrate Tina’s milestone in her journey in glass blowing. Her new exhibition showcases her latest creations and honours her fantastic journey in her craft. Can we now claim her as a master? We will let you be the judge. when: from 9am on Wednesday December 3rd where: Tina Cooper Gallery | 93 Memorial Drive | Eumundi | Qld

Born in Jersey Island where castles line the horizon and romance and fantasy fill the air, a move to the land of opportunity, Australia in 1966 experiencing many career opportunities and many art mediums.

A move to the Sunshine Coast hinterland (The Range) in 1989 and a chance connection with Mark Galton, a glass blower for Chris Pantano of Montville. My first experience watching Mark working this liquid hot glass induced an overwhelming response – as if to say – Hello! I found my destiny. A huge feeling of excitement crept over my body, even the hairs on my arms stood up – OK – how can I get involved in this? No, was not an option!

So, the journey started. I convinced Mark to start our own studio – rummaging through salvage dumps to find our treasures to make our first studio. Cost total $2,500.00 (Today the studio I work from costs $150,000.00). We did the best with what we had. Our humble beginnings began with selling our work at Eumundi and Riverside Markets as we changed designs, worked on creating the best pieces we could. Mark and I learned to create designs around the freeform dance as we worked our pieces. After 6 months we had our range which allowed us to launch Martini Glass and to our excitement a few galleries took us on board. With my influence in design and colour and Marks technique – we had it made. My life as a 30 year old single mother has just taken a huge leap into the unknown – unknown alright – 5 days blowing, two markets on the weekend. Pack, wrap, grind, collect accounts, order material, run a house – 5 minute noodles, 4.00am wake up call. Then, driving in a bomb of a van with a child in tow, no fuel in the tank to get us home, no money to buy breakfast (as my daughter, Jasmin, reminds me) – “Life’s Big”

One of my lines I used was “One day I’ll be famous, and the work you buy today will be a reminder to you that you helped to achieve my goal” Twenty five years on and now I really understand that the heart and soul I’ve put into my work has spread and that people do see my Vision – it is here.

After 6 years Martini Glass became a fine studio with representations around Australia. Now it was time to pursue my passion in glass. My first attempt to start my own work – Jim Barry assisting – yes, I was very wobbly and unsure. Who will buy that piece? Jim always said “someone will love it”. I still get asked for my bent goblets – how hard I worked to get them straight! Many workshops later my techniques had improved. Our first win in an art glass show backed up the feeling that I was on track.

In Team management I have learnt to bring humour and little expectation to my work space. I’ve kept the motto of everyone needs to feel part and as important as each other. We always strive to create the vision of peace and we have to become one experiencing the feeling of this Dance has brought people to tears and leave them with the sense of that energy created by true artists acknowledging each other and enjoying the journey of making some awesome pieces – many people ask where did I study?, and I remember at a William Morris workshop after 10 glass artists rattled off their credentials. Feeling very humbled in front of my mentor, hardly getting out a word. I have a BNT – Billy Oh – he said – great – after we had all settled in they all said, what’s a BNT? I said with a smile – Born Naturally Talented! They all laughed – But its true we don’t need letters above our name, just the courage to be who we truly are – creators.

Along with William Morris I also attended workshops with Richard Clements, Ruth King, Dante Marioni and Dick Marquis, Pino Signoretti and Lino Tagliapietra.

I needed to bring together a team that was capable of carrying large pieces and a level of skill and courage to venture into the unknown A team that was ready to work with new ideas, exploring new techniques as my passion was large hot component work. This work involved connecting components at a certain temperature that allows the glass to fuse in a 5 second only keyhole! Then reheating constantly every 10 seconds until the piece is complete to the vision. Understanding that this can require up to 14 kilos, carried in temperatures of 1200 degrees, a team of 5, for many hours and then annealing in the kiln for days and another day for cold work to complete this piece. Then! One out of every three pieces may portray the vision.

So, finally my chance to represent Australia in the USA . A gallery in NSW called Ragland Gallery saw something in my work that was very different – presenting the “Great Barrier Reef”. My very popular Sealife series was the hero, the bright colours surrounded with corals, fish, shells and weeds was the outcome of immersing my senses while floating through the many reefs I have explored. Using glass as my medium I have captured the feeling, experience and solidified it in glass, a timeless reflection of Mother Nature in its glory.

As there is an up in life there is also a down. Two weeks off from the USA show September 11 now known as 9/11 happened and my career which was meant to soar and fly and be discovered instead found my wings clipped. We just managed to be allowed to take our work over there due to restriction but the world changed from that day on and was never the same.

Yes, I did go that year and the next year after. I was so sure that this would be a turning point in my career, I even signed a contract on a block of land overlooking Baroon Pocket Dam for my “appointment only” Gallery. Yes, in that show we all sold very little and yes I kept the block of land and recently put my studio up after 13 years. I have kept the vision and I have learnt it may not happen now but if you really keep one step in front of the other and stay true to yourself it will.

Other subsequent exhibitions at the Palazzo Versace – Gold Coast, Europe in Spain, Barcelona, USA – Philadelphia at the National Liberty Museum, Chicago – International Expo of SOFA.

I have been honoured throughout my career to be able to create some spectacular glass pieces for my clients. An Urn commissioned for the King of Tonga for his funeral and also for other members of the family. Queensland Resource Council awards for women, Bank of Queensland awards, Installations for the Sheraton Noosa Resort and the Ramada Hotel Hervey Bay.

My journey from a little island to the Sunshine Coast has allowed me to rub shoulders with great artist that have enriched my life work. I would like to acknowledge the late Mark Galton and the glass artist Lucas Salton, who lit the furnace of my heart for glass. Team members.. Matt Quirk, Jonathan Westacott, Sean O’Donogue and Wolfgang Engel. Metal Artist Jules Johnson & Tom Higgins, Tom Squire. Wood Artist.. Roger Chadwick. Indigenous artist .. Nuuna, Peter Mulcahy , Maca. Glass Assistants.. Jim Barry, Karl Jefferies, Lisa Delaoue, Scottie Wollcock, Dave Good, Aza and Greg Royer. Bead Artists..Gary Lisle and Carmel White

The rocks that keep me sane.. Zymar Mulcahy, Louisa, Ross Bell, Karen and Wolfgang Engel. An extra thanks to Shiralee Cooper at Illume Creation sister gallery to Tina Cooper Gallery for being a loyal patron of the arts. My parents Tony & Marion Cooper and top of the list!!.. my wonderful daughter Jasmin who supported me throughout this journey and became the super sales lady. On the top of her sales list was at Eumundi Markets, 12 glass pieces to Pat Cash and 6 months later seeing the pieces in their home in a two page spread in New Idea Magazine, we didn’t eat two minute noodles that night! I cannot imagine what would’ve happen if I didn’t have their loyalty and encouragement.

To all my collectors ongoing support along my journey a very big thank you. There would be no Tina Cooper Glass without you all. You are my hero’s, putting your faith in me and giving me the courage to persevere and all the thousands of people saying kind words and encouraging me to continue the roller coaster ride. (Did I tell you that I hate roller coaster ride?) As one good sale really means to me...one more day of glass!!! Nothing more.... pay my bills and recreate!!! I am so lucky to have had this tough life!!

I go to work to have fun and fill my life with passion. What are you doing with your life?