Emma Varga


Works in this extraordinary collection  convey messages of hope and fragility contained in glass sculptures that evoke breathtaking imagery of vibrant landscapes, coral reefs and icy continents.

When Emma moved to Australia in 1995 following political unrest in her homeland, (the former Yugoslavia), she was already an experienced glass artist with twenty years working in the industry. She graduated from the University of Applied Arts in Belgrade in 1975 earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual and Applied Art, with majors in Glass Design and Ceramic Sculpture.

Her work was always influenced by the environment. Since graduating she travelled to remote places untouched by man, from the high mountains in Europe to the far north of Norway. In recent years escalating global warming prompted her to travel to Antarctica to find inspiration for a body of work she planned to make which she hoped would further raise the awareness  and contribute to the global conversation. “I was completely mesmerised by the beauty and serenity of the frozen continent, the vast array of ice surfaces, turquoise and blue shining from the depth of ice through translucent white surface, clarity of ocean revealing submerged parts of iceberg, a rare appearance of ice crystals”.  The resulting works for her exhibition “Antarctica” in 2013 were magical. Large icy sculptures and panels with intricate surface detail in turquoise and white pate de verre.  ‘The Great Barrier Reef continues to influence and inspire me to make a new series of work focussed on the fragile but vibrant coral gardens immersed in azure blue waters now threatened by coral bleaching and human impact on the environment.’

The interplay between how and why she makes her dynamic and beautiful works captivating nature so succinctly is an incredibly complex and laborious process. To make each object, she cuts thousands of tiny glass elements from clear and transparent colored glass sheets and combines them with glass frits and stringers. The sculptural glass objects are made from 20–400 thin transparent glass layers; glass mosaic elements, colored frits and stringers are assembled on each sheet, according to a complicated three-dimensional plan that she envisions ahead of time. These are then fused together in stages. It takes two weeks to fire and slowly cool down large sculptural works, then a further two weeks to grind and polish all of the surfaces to perfection. Only then it is finally possible to see the inside; all the fine details and veil-like structures floating in the sea of clear glass.

Emma is a natural storyteller and her works have always told stories. Memories from her birthplace in Ada and major events that shaped her life. Her enduring passion has been using her art and her love of nature as an agent for social change, particularly in relation to climate change.

In 2017 Emma was invited to join a group of International artists travelling to Svalbard Archipelago, Norway,  in waters above the Arctic Circle.  She was also the winner of the prestigious  Stephen Procter fellowship where she received a 4 to 8 week residency at the Australian National University School of Art and Design Glass Workshop. She used this time to experiment and  develop ideas for an exhibition  based on her observations and photographs taken on this extraordinary journey.

 Additional Artist information