Six years ago, Hannah Gregory, owner of Bad Ass Stained Glass, Cervantes, Western Australia, was puttying windows for free in exchange for education in stained glass. In October 2022, the artist spent a month at the renowned Judson Studios, Los Angeles, California, working with some of the best glass painters in the world as well as artists working with glass in non-traditional ways. This was made possible through a fellowship awarded to Gregory by the International Specialized Skills Institute of Australia.
Growing up in Western Australia, Gregory enjoyed a childhood spent by the ocean, around cray-fishing boats and fishing off of the beach. With no fine arts education, she has always been an outsider artist, making irreverent, bold works in painting, drawing, printing and photography until her mid 20s when she became focused entirely on working with glass.
Since 2016, stained glass has been the planet on which Gregory wakes and sleeps. She has now trained, worked, studied and travelled extensively in the US, Europe, and Australia resulting in a comprehensive and contrasting repertoire of both Medieval and innovative skills and techniques for working with stained glass. Residencies have been awarded to Gregory by the Australia Council of the Arts, the International Specialized Skills Institute, the Western Australian Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, and the American Glass Guild.
A passionate advocate for a more diverse, inclusive and engaging future for stained glass, Gregory is also determined to undermine the outdated expectations and connotations of her beloved craft. Gregory states: “I believe stained glass needs to be where people don’t expect it. It needs to say things people don’t expect it to say. It needs to ask questions. It needs to be in architecture/ outside of architecture. It needs to be thought provoking and collaborative.”
Currently living with her husband in the small fishing town of Cervantes on unceded Yued land, Gregory enjoys working on both architectural commissions and experimental autonomous works. She served as International Artist in Resident at the well-known Swansea College of Art in the UK for what was supposed to be one year, but ended up being two due to Covid. At the beginning of 2022, she returned to Australia where she was awarded a six-month residency at the Fremantle Arts Centre, resulting in a new body of work focused on seaweed. Her work can be found in architecture and private collections across the world.
Upon her return to Australia from Judson Studios, Gregory begins work on two large jellyfish windows, a complex commission for a wildlife photographer and videographer in Oregon for 12 animal skylights, an ongoing larger job in Melbourne that will be her largest job to date, and her Steven’s competition window. She has also just received seed money from the UN International Year of Glass to run some lead lighting workshops for people in regional Australia and is hoping to start glass painting workshops in her studio. She enjoys sharing her passion for glass through teaching and workshops when she can.
Believing that stained glass is a having a bit of a renaissance and hasn’t reached its full potential, Gregory and husband Kris are experimenting with traditional wet plate collodion photography on glass and its applications for stained glass. Other recent projects have included two windows for a door depicting a large protea, some commissioned tattoo designs and some small memorial windows.
Says Gregory: “My work is guided by the concept of transformation from destruction. Stained glass is one of the most enduring artforms in the western world, and its creation hinges on breaking glass, manipulating metals, burning pigment. Every act in fabricating a piece of my work relies on destruction. In its very essence, the building and durability of stained glass relies on a balanced mix of the fragility of glass, and the strength of lead.”