As the Olympic torch has been making its way to London, the Contemporary Glass Society has just unveiled plans for its own torch relay conducted in conjunction with the Glass Games, a series of 70 glass-themed spectacles planned around the U.K. from June 1st through September 30th. To usher in this major celebration of glass that begins on Friday, CGS recruited artist Bruce Marks to interpret the torch as a work of glass, which will visit seven Glass Games events in order to symbolically tie the venues together.
Symbolism figured greatly into Marks’s creative process. Given the impossible amount of history and cultural import surrounding the torch, Marks faced a considerable challenge in its interpretation. His approaches ranged from patriotic (by drawing aesthetically from the British flag) to internationally inclusive (by saturating the piece with as much color as possible); at a restless 2AM, he decided on the baton’s current design, which Marks says, “tries to assemble the forces that drive all sportsmen and women to the incredible feats that they are capable of. There is bronze, silver and gold within the piece symbolizing the medals that every nation is striving for, which are then surrounded with the red Olympic flames on the exterior of the baton.”
Marks’s baton references the object from which it was adapted in many ways. The Olympic flame is ignited via a parabolic glass mirror, which catches the light of the sun; this tradition alludes to the myth of Prometheus, whose theft of fire for the benefit of mankind in turn symbolizes the acquisition of divine knowledge. When lit from above, Marks’s baton emits a similar sapient glow. Marks’s piece also addresses the issue of the sanctity with which the Olympic torch is treated—it must be handled with care, much in the same way one handles a glass object.
The baton will begin its tour across the United Kingdom on June 13th, at the Gallery in Redchurch Street, London, as part of CGS’s exhibition “Glass Games: a desire, a dream, a vision.” From there the baton will be moved to the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, as well as the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, the Glass Games at Parndon Mill in Harlow, the Belfry Arts Centre in Norfolk, and the Ruskin Glass Centre in Stourbridge before completing its journey at North Lands Creative Glass in Caithness.