COVID-19 travel alert: New Zealand is currently at Alert Level 1. Learn more.
With his partner, Christine Robb, Lynden founded Lava Glass in Taupo over 20 years ago. In the decades since, he’s developed his craft through endless experimentation, seizing upon “little sparks” of originality and pushing them into techniques not seen elsewhere.
“To me, one of the main attributes of glass is that you can see through it or you can see into it,” says Lynden. “Making something thin only gives it one dimension. If you make something thick, you can have layers of texture and pattern vanishing into the piece, giving it depth.”
It takes hard work to create that layered effect. A big vase – which can weigh as much as a school-child – takes two hours of non-stop work in the “hot shop”. The glass furnace roars with the ferocity of a volcano – up to 1200 degrees Celsius. As Lynden works, assistants shield him from the searing heat with long-handled wooden paddles. Even then, he needs to stop frequently to plunge his hands into a bucket of cold water.
The colours of Taupo’s landscapes weave through Lynden’s vases and bowls – here, the deep earthy bronzes of the Desert Road; there, the delicate yellow-greens and greys of an alpine meadow, speckled with orange and white flowers. Many of his pieces reflect direct experiences he’s had in the landscape of the Central Plateau, from river journeys to alpine hikes and visits to geothermal parks.
Working with glass is addictive, he says. “It’s fire, it’s always turning, there’s the mesmerising factor. You can do anything with glass when it’s hot – it’s so malleable. And there’s also the constant challenge.”
The light-filled Lava Glass gallery is a popular stop for visitors to the region. Over the years, a cafe, and a glass sculpture garden where giant flowers sprout alongside strange glass birds and fountains cascade across tiered glass platters, have been added.
Lynden’s latest project though, is several hundred kilometres away. To power a furnace to a volcanic level of heat takes a tremendous amount of fuel – something that didn’t sit well with a passionate environmentalist. With the goal of achieving Carbon Neutral status, the studio invested in electric kilns, changed to electric vehicles, and purchased 100 hectares of land in Northland to regenerate with native bush and crop woods.
“Because our work has a strong environmental theme, through our love of the natural landscape and flora and fauna, we want to make sure we are paying respect to the environment,” he says. “We aim to be the first carbon neutral glass studio in the world.”
Explore local art stops around Lake Taupo with this one day itinerary for the admirer of creativity. Discover hidden talent and popular artist hot spots, foody gems and off the beaten track attractions.