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Clay, glass, porcelain, metal or paper are sculptor Lucia Bru’s materials of choice. During her Residency at the Cristallerie Saint-Louis, the Brussels-based artist engaged with the many facets of crystal, combining experimental techniques and confrontation with other materials.
Drawing on her familiarity with what are in known in France as les arts du feu (ceramics, metalwork, enamel and glass), Lucia Bru sought to engage with the full range of crystal-making skills and techniques, with a particular focus on polishing. Taking three imposing masses of crystal unearthed at the workshop, she plunged them into an acid bath (a commonly-used technique). Thus polished, the prisms emerged with greater brilliance, revealing three autonomous blocks of pure matter.
In contrast, Bru – who teaches at the Académie des Beaux-Arts de Saint-Gilles in Brussels – also experimented with these geometric forms on a very small scale. She worked hot, molten crystal to create a series of rods. Sawn into sections, these were transformed into dozens of small cubes which were sand-blasted, polished and mixed with small, ceramic prisms. For Bru, the result is a protean, ‘spectral, mineral mass’ that experiments with ‘the mutability, the unstable physicality of living creatures and things’.
Lucia Bru’s mentor Ann Veronica Janssens felt that ‘the purity of her sculpture would be wonderfully suited to innovative, experimental work with the artisans at the Cristallerie,’ as reflected in the Residency’s final project, for which Bru blew molten crystal into moulds of her own design. The resulting ‘deformations’ were fixed by pouring cement into the delicate crystal shell, which was topped and tailed for the purpose. This was the first time a Residency had made use of this highly specialist workshop and technique at the Cristallerie. The resulting, hybrid work challenges the status of crystal as a material, and resonates perfectly with Bru’s corpus as a whole.