South Australian artist Jessica Loughlin primarily creates work using kiln-formed glass-making techniques whereby glass is heated in a specialised oven to fuse glass together or to form the glass into different shapes using molds. This is known as ‘warm’ glass-making techniques and is distinct from ‘hot’ work, such as glass blowing where artists perform at speed to shape molten glass, or ‘cold’ techniques, like stained-glass or etching and engraving.

Since 1998 Loughlin has been dedicated to kiln-formed glass-making techniques which have facilitated her sculptural explorations of colour and light, and the ways in which we perceive such phenomena.

For most of her career, Loughlin has been fascinated by the horizon – the liminal edge between sky and earth. An observable yet elusive phenomenon, the horizon is a powerful metaphor for hope and the unknown, and is often an emblem for the future. For Loughlin, its poetic qualities are paralleled by the physical conditions of the horizon, particularly how we perceive distance through an increasing ‘blueness’ of the atmosphere. As Rebecca Solnit, American writer and inspiration to Loughlin, describes in A field guide to getting lost (2005):

I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that colour of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The colour of that distance is the colour of an emotion, the colour of solitude and of desire, the colour of there seen from here, the colour of where you are not. And the colour of where you can never go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains.[1]

While atmospheric perspective is a concept more typically witnessed in painting, Loughlin has used fused glass to explore this sensation in her most recent work solari (2024). Installed above the eastern or Fish Gates entrance of the Art Gallery of South Australia, the large-scale disc is both lens and mirror to subtle shifts in changing daylight. As its title suggests–sol being the Latin word for sun and solaris meaning solace–the seemingly austere glass disc both situates and consoles us. It constitutes a slow-moving image of the unceasing cosmological events that shape and govern our lives.

Installed opposite solari is another glass work, a permanent stain-glass piece by Christian Waller (1894-1954), Prophet Isaiah, Apostle St Peter, Sundar Singh, 1936. This figurative work is in direct contrast to the formal abstraction of Loughlin, yet both pieces are about the qualities of light. Waller offers a nod to Australia’s longstanding interest in spiritualism and its influence on early twentieth-century artists, particularly those keen to explore inner realities, the nature of the invisible and an alternative vision of the world. Although Loughlin’s practice remains more attuned to Zen Buddhism, both Waller and Loughlin represent examples of art’s need to transcend the limitations of the ephemeral world to understand the unknown.[2]

solari is characteristic of Loughlin’s minimalist approach to object making, where three-dimensional forms are pared back to their essential geometry. While simple in form, the hand-worked precision of Loughlin’s sculptures allow for ever-changing complexity in colour as they capture a moving prism of light. They seek a similar transcendence or universality that can be found in the early minimalist works of the 1960s and 70s, including the nearby installation Untitled (1974-75) by American artist Donald Judd. Described as a ‘topographic object’, one length of Judd’s concrete triangle follows the slope of the gallery’s grounds while another sits level, creating an ‘horizontal ideal’.[3] Solari and Untitled share a horizon and the type of minimalism that, in many ways, contains the world.

[1] Rebecca Solnit, A field guide to getting lost, Canongate Books, Edinburgh, 2005, p. 29.

[2] Da Silva, José. Inner Sanctum | 18th Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 2024, pg. 38

[3] James Lawrence quoted by Maria Zagala, ‘Curator’s Insight – Donald Judd Untitled’, AGSA website.

Books and articles

Da Silva, José. Inner Sanctum | 18th Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 2024.

Ewington, Julie, et al. Jessica Loughlin: from here, Wakefield Press, Adelaide, 2022.

‘Jessica Loughlin’, Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, May 2020.

Zagala, Maria. ‘Curator’s Insight – Donald Judd Untitled’, AGSA website.


Jessica Loughlin, artist website.

‘Jessica Loughlin’, Sabbia Gallery: Artists.

‘Kilnworking: Overview’, Corning Museum of Glass, Rakow Research Library Research Guides.


‘Colours Underwater’ from Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms, PBS LearningMedia, video, 1:48 mins.

‘JamFactory ICON 2022 Jessica Loughlin: of light’, JamFactory Australia, Youtube video, 5:32 mins.

‘JamFactory Wednesday Talks // Jessica Loughlin’, JamFactory Australia, Youtube video, 41:17 mins.

‘The art of kiln glass’, Bullseye Glass, video, 13:00 mins.

‘What is atmospheric perspective?’, Khan Academy, video, 1:22 mins.

Jessica Loughlin is inspired by the horizon line, light and space. Artists Sabine Marcelis and George Cooley are also interested in light, its properties and how it changes in certain landscapes. Biennial artist Teelah George is fascinated with the sky – something which is familiar to us all, yet hard to really understand its properties. Look at each of these artists’ work and compare their fascination with natural phenomena. How does each artist respond to the idea of light?

installation view: Metamorphosis, featuring Shadow light, Sand by Sabine Marcelis, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; photo: Saul Steed.

Look through AGSA’s collection either in person or online and find five different works of art made from glass. Have these works of art been made using ‘hot’, ‘cold’ or ‘warm’ glass making techniques? South Australia is home for some great glass artists who use the hot technique such as Claire Belfrage,Liam Fleming, Tom Moore and Emma Young. More - Watch the video ‘The art of kiln glass’ and visit the Jam Factory

  • Glass artists Lisa Cahill, Rita Kellaway and Kirstie Rea also use kiln formed techniques to create works of art about the natural world akin to Loughlin’s work. Investigate the work of all four artists. What is it about the quality of glass that lends itself to ideas and concepts about the natural world?
  • Colour and light are inseparable. Two scientists working in the field of chemistry and physics, Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1726) and Michel Eugéne Chevreul (1786–1889) were instrumental in helping us understand the way we see and perceive colour. Newton analyzed the nature of light, and chemist Chevreul analyzed the visual effects of colour juxtapositions. Chevreul determined that when the eye sees two colours side by side, they appear vastly different in colour and strength. Research other advancements in science and technology that occurred during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Consider how new technologies and materials have transformed the way artists work today. Tip: Find out more about the science of light with our education resource.
  • Locate works of art in the collection that capture different times of the day. As a class discuss the qualities of the works that suggest to you what time of the day it is.
  • Using Loughlin’s work as an example discuss the following statement: ‘Works of art provide us with pivots for a greater understanding about the natural world’.
  • Two works that have influenced Loughlin's work is Silver and grey by Fred Williams and Sun Figure by Howard Taylor, as well as work by Anges Martin and Mark Rothko. Look closely at works by these artists and compare them to Loughlin's work. Why do you think she is drawn to these artists' works?

Fred Williams, born Melbourne 1927, died Melbourne 1982, Silver and grey, 1969, Melbourne, oil on canvas, 137.2 x 152.3 cm, 142.0 x 157.5 x 5.0 (frame); Gift of an anonymous donor 1992, Art Gallery of South Australia, © Estate of Fred Williams.

Howard Taylor, born Hamilton, Victoria 1918, died Perth 2001, Sun figure, 1989, Northcliffe, Western Australia, oil on canvas, 90.0 x 120.0 x 4.0 cm; South Australian Government Grant 1991, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Howard H. Taylor Estate.

  • Loughlin is inspired by the beauty if emptiness, light and space. Create a minimalist work of art that inspired by the essence of your favourite environmental element or atmosphere. With a minimalist work of art, no attempt should be made to represent reality. Strip all information away from your idea to just represent it’s essence. Instead, these works are often characterised by their simple shapes and forms and are often made of materials such as plastic, metal, and concrete and either left raw or painted in a single colour. Tip: AGSA have works by Donald Judd and Sabine Marcelis. You might like to find out more about minimalism through these resources.
  • Select your favourite colour visible in nature. Perhaps it is the colour of a eucalypt leaf or the sea grass found on the beach. Photograph this object and recreate this colour using paint or pastels. Write a poem or story about this colour. Where else have you seen this or a similar hue?