The contemporary artist who ventures into the realm of richly gilded or silvered decoration on vessels of glass or ceramic is a brave soul indeed. I say this for the simple reason that this artist ventures into perilous waters in the sense that precious metallic ornament is equated, all-too-often, with half-baked historicism at best, or at least with an excessive preciousness of motif. At risk of sounding like some carping, killjoy, latter-day Ruskin hideous thought! - it must be said that the very nature of lavish gold or silver or platinum ornament, a defining feature of your basic neo-baroque aesthetic, is such that the artist-maker does well to approach this species of applied decoration with extreme caution and discretion.
By the same token, in the hands of an artist of skill, sensitivity and imagination, the techniques associated with this generic idiom of metallic splendor, of neo-baroque gleam and glister, are, without doubt, tech-niques that afford some real versatility in terms of surface finish and articulation, while they can lend to a work an evocative and at times elusive air.
The distinctive glass vessels made by the Sydney artist Brian Hirst "ceremonial" or "votive" bowl forms that are detailed in platinum or some other precious metal are an excellent case in point. Hirst is no stranger to American collectors nor, for that matter, is his work unknown to collectors of contemporary glass in a number of other countries as well.