Klaus Moje was one of the most distinguished and influential glass artists of his time. Living in Canberra and working as an educator as well as glass artist Moje had a profound influence on national and international glass communities. As Head of the Glass Workshop at the School of Art, Australian National University, in Canberra for ten years from 1982, he built one of the most successful glass education programs in the world. Moje was well known for his innovative work with fused mosaic glass and designs reflecting the intense colour and energy of the Australian landscape, and he inspired generations of studio glass artists to work in kiln formed glass. His international connections have provided many exhibiting and teaching opportunities for his graduates and other Australian glass artists, which were continued later by his successors, Stephen Procter and Jane Bruce, and more recently this tradition has been carried out by Richard Whiteley.
Klaus Moje passed away on Saturday 24th September. We’re saddened by this news at the Museum; we have a number of connections with Klaus Moje through hosting his solo exhibition and collecting his works.
Born in Germany in 1936 to a family of glass workers, Moje studied glass art Rheinbach and Hadamar, and began his artistic career creating carved glass sculptures.
When still living in Germany in the early 1980s Moje wanted to make kiln formed mosaic glass, but there was only a limited colour palette of glass colours that he could fuse compatibly. He made contact with Bullseye Glass Company that was set up in Portland, Oregon, in 1974 to make hand-rolled glass for architectural purposes. Moje played a major role in inspiring Bullseye to enter the international studio glass market in the 1980s by developing compatible sheet glass for kiln forming, now available in a bewildering range of colours.
By the 1990s, Moje wanted to make vessel forms from his fused mosaic sheets. He continued collaborating with Bullseye to develop a glass working process to enable this to happen. He first worked with Bullseye’s glass at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, with glassblower Billy Morris in 1987. Then he worked with Dante Marioni in Portland in 1993, with Marioni experimenting with the traditional Venetian hot glass pick-up method. What eventually evolved in 1998 was the ‘Australian roll-up process’ that combines areas of kiln work with hot, furnace glass techniques.
In “Australian Studio Glass” (1995), Noris Ioannou writes that “the significance of the establishment of the Canberra Glass Workshop and its education and practical training of glass artists over the past decade, cannot be overstated… the establishment of workshop coincided with the shift in glass activity from functional, limited production work, to emphasise one-off conceptual or ‘glass art’.”
Klaus Moje has been awarded many prestigious awards including the Australian Creative Fellowship (1995), Lifetime Achievement Award from the Glass Arts Society (2000 )Australia Council Visual Arts/Crafts Emeritus Award (2001), Lifetime Achievement Award from Urban Glass in New York (2004). Moje was awarded the Order of Australia (2006) and also named a Living Treasure: Masters of Australian Craft, a program that celebrates the achievements of Australia’s iconic and influential crafts practitioners and promotes the work of Australian artists whose exemplary craft skills have been recognised by their peers.
Moje was also instrumental in setting up the Canberra Glassworks in the former Kingston Powerhouse in 2007.
Klaus Moje is survived by his wife, noted ceramicist Brigitte Enders and their two sons, and a daughter from his first marriage.
Two of Moje’s glass pieces are on display at the Castle Hill Discovery Centre.
With thanks to Eva Czernis-Ryl, curator and Dr Grace Cochrane, former MAAAS senior curator.