Materials Sandblasted glass, cast glass, bronze, wood
Collection Verrerie Ouvrières d’Albi, Albi, France
The sculpture was a commission I created for the 100th anniversary of the Verrerie Ouvrière d’Albi in 1996. This glass factory which principally made bottles for the wine industry was begun after a strike by the workers in a nearby factory. Before her death Mme Dembourg donated 100,000 francs to the workers and Henri Rochfort purchased the land for them. This factory formed under the patronage of Jean Jaurès, a deputy from the region and the eventual head of the French Socialist Party, was the first industrial cooperative in France. There were no stockholders and the company was run by a group of workers voted on by their peers. This status remained until 1989 when due to financial difficulties they were forced to seek outside funds and it became a company with anonymous outside investors.
The sculpture represents the evolution of the industrial glassblower from actually blowing the bottles on a pipe into a wooden mold to semi-automatic machinery to full scale automation of today. The piece shows the camaraderie amongst the workers passing the job along to the next generation. I wanted to keep the focus on the workers since they were the ones that made this project work for so many years and it was these workers who created the model for other cooperatives to follow.The first bottle was blown on December 31, 1896 and on December 31 1996 I went to the factory any pulled a bottle off the assembly line and engraved it to be handed off to the future. The orange bottles were blown into molds from the factory to signify hot glass and then the color gets more clear to show cooling.