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Last Updated: Friday, 8 October, 2004, 06:51 GMT 07:51 UK
Glass artist up for 20,000 prize
By Nick Dermody
BBC News Online Wales

Yvonne Coffey in Venice
From Venice to the Wye Valley: Yvonne Coffey now works from a studio near Usk
A Monmouthshire artist has reached the final of the UK's largest arts prize for people working with glass.

Yvonne Coffey, 39, who lives in Cardiff but works in Usk, is in the running for the 20,000 Bombay Sapphire award for her hand-cut glass jewellery.

She is one of 27 artists whose work will be exhibited around the UK until spring 2005.

In March this year, Coffey was named as one of the best 75 glass artists in the world in a study by a US glass museum.

Born in Norwich and brought up in Yorkshire, she trained in ceramics and glass at the Royal College of Art in London and has exhibited in Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Venice.

She moved to Wales last year after becoming engaged and is expecting her first child in the New Year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, she says the human drive to procreate has influenced the work she has submitted for the prize.

She said: "I am intrigued by glass because of our complex relationship with it

Yvonne Colley's necklace designs
A snip at 210: Each necklace is handmade in lead crystal

"It is perceived as being fragile and yet it is used everywhere from submarines to spaceships.

"I'm trying to work with the tensions between the graphic masculine imagery and the fragile nature of the medium."

Coffey's jewellery is competing against entrants offering glass works in architecture, design and visual and applied art.

The Bombay Sapphire award was founded in 2001 to "applaud and reward outstanding contemporary glass design".

A spokesman for the award said: "The incredible versatility of glass lends itself to wide-ranging design applications, from vast architectural structures to delicate objets d'art.

"The lead crystal used in Yvonne Coffey's designs has been chosen for its purity, transparency, refractive qualities and weight.

"It combines with the Hematite beads to form a graphic statement of the body as well as sitting comfortably around the neck."

The Bombay Sapphire award is announced in London on 20 October.

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