Lokal Creators / Renata Schirm (Jakowleff)

Renata is a glass artist born in Hungary and based in Finland. She has been working with glass for 15 years. Since her graduation from Aalto University in 2010, she has held multiple solo exhibitions and participated in a variety of international exhibitions and fairs. Renata was awarded with the Ornamo Prize in 2018 for her artistic work and material innovations.

We interviewed Renata on the subjects of art and creative process.


Lokal: Tell us a little about yourself and your work.


Renata: Initially I got interested in glass as a material because of it’s fluid consistency, which led me to think about the essence of the material in a more profound way. First, I explored the forms that are natural to glass, and shaping glass through movement. Working with the melted mass made me think about the relationship between the movement of the body and of the liquid glass. I consider my glass works to be documents of the unique substance of my body, captured in a moment in time and place.


Recently, I have thought about the essence of glass material in an even more comprehensive way, and I find the optical nature of glass very fascinating. Glass becomes visible when light is reflected on it’s surface or through it’s mass. In a certain light or point of view glass appears to vanish, and becomes visible only through the movement of the spectator. In other words, movement is essential in observing solid glass.  


L: How do you design your works?


R: At the moment I work with glass fur pieces, which are kind of reflective paintings. The public calls them rya rugs, which is correct in terms of the structure, but my intention is not to make a statement about the tradition and continuum of rya textiles. I view these artworks as fur pieces, and they have entered my world through my reflections of the nature of this material.


My works with fur-like surfaces appear as paintings to me. The optical glass creates abstract landscapes that change according to the light conditions. The lively surface and it’s relationship with the changing light and the movement of the spectator are an endless source of fascination for me.


I see glass as an authentic, natural material though it is fully synthetic and man-made. I find the concept of authenticity of materials very contradicting, as it is a reminiscence from the past, related to the way we still categorise materials today.


L: Which one of your artworks or products is your own favourite?


R: Probably the next one. I’m a person who always looks forward and my mind is set for the future works and collaborations. If I’m completely honest, I find none of my works fully satisfying, as I tend to always notice the imperfections and incomplete ideas. Of course, some of my works are milestones in my career, and thus important. These works usually portray a more profound insight or inspiration, or I have finally mastered a technique or something else within me when making them.


L: Which production principle is important to you?


R: Right now I feel that it’s honesty. It’s easier to be honest when working with a material as a starting point, than if my work would be solely based on theory. I still have too many options though, and I see my work as a kind of a cleaning process. I try to understand how something should be portrayed, and I remove the things that prevent this idea from coming to life. My artistic process is mostly about trying to listen to and understand my feelings, and individual principles like ecological production are not on my focus. It’s more about a balance that’s hard to describe in words.

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