Richard Wheater: the glass artist leading the neon revival
‘I want to open up the book about neon, and give people an idea about what it can do beyond the world of advertising'
Richard Wheater is leading a neon revival, bringing intensive, one-day Neon Workshops to locations across Europe. Rhona Taylor tries one out.
Glass artist Richard Wheater is illuminating the world about neon, taking an intensive one-day version of his courses – normally based at his workshop in Wakefield – to locations around Europe. For this year’s Edinburgh Festival, he returned to the place he studied – Edinburgh College of Art’s glass department – for a fast-paced, hands-on day offering an insight into working with the medium.
Wheater took the class through a quick history of the subject before demonstrating the techniques used to create a piece of neon glass. He then worked with each student on a design that they realised with him during the afternoon, heating and moulding the glass before 'bombarding' it to process the electrodes and finally filling it with gas before they took it home.
It was a fast, energetic day with students ranging from academics to artists, from those who have always wanted to work with neon to a couple who were given the course as a wedding present. ‘I want to open up the book about neon, and give people an idea about what it can do beyond the world of advertising,’ Wheater says. ‘It’s being used less and less, and if this brings it to people’s attention, then that satisfies me.’
Information on future courses and mobile workshops at neonworkshops.com