Meet the Maker: Jo Downs


Meet the Maker: Jo Downs

 

Jo Downs has been designing for over 20 years and has become the UKs most recognised fused glass artists. Her coastally inspired work is synonymous with the county of Cornwall where she lives and works, and her dazzlingly beautiful galleries are a well-known feature on some of Cornwall’s loveliest shopping streets.

Jo Downs at her Launceston Studio. Photo Peter Searle

Jo Downs at her Launceston Studio. Photo Peter Searle

A thriving design studio and a string of galleries across the south west are the reward for a life dedicated to excellence in her craft, and with the recent opening of her new gallery in the village of Ripley, Surrey, she is beginning to bring the inspirational beauty of Cornwall to a national audience.

Jo Downs: Beach Quintych

Jo Downs: Beach Quintych

Having started out with one small kiln in a workshop in London’s Muswell Hill in 1996, this year she celebrates 20 years in business. Along with her gorgeous range of handmade interior pieces, Jo specialises in bespoke interior projects, creating custom designed fused-glass windows, wall panels and head turning art installations for private homes. Hers is the rarefied art of combining texture, light and colour, and her spectacularly beautiful commissions grace an impressive list of private and celebrity homes. Her exceptional skill as a designer-maker and her innovative designs have also earned her commissions for cruise liners, hotels and corporate headquarters. 

Jo Downs: Shoaling fish installation. Photo Mike Evans

Jo Downs: Shoaling fish installation. Photo Mike Evans

Truly a specialist in her field, her wealth of design experience means that she can create, in her own words “Just about anything. There’s not a private commission, no matter how challenging, that I’ve had to say no to so far. People come to me with some really big ideas – giant outdoor murals, swimming pool floors, room sized partitions, three storey windows – and between us we find the balance between what they want and what’s possible in fused glass”. Commissioning artwork like this represents, for many, a celebration of their home and family, a statement of their personal loves and lifestyle, and Jo understands clearly that each commission requires a tailored design focus.

Jo Downs: Glass leaves installation. Photo Mike Evans

Jo Downs: Glass leaves installation. Photo Mike Evans

“It’s crucial that a piece of work reflects the feel of its final space, so I make site visits and look carefully at the interior we are working with. I spend time with my client discussing ideas and looking at various samples of glass and different colours, textures and effects, and then I’ll come up with a series of sketches and samples for them to consider. Every commission is different” she says, “but all of them, large or small, are a wonderful challenge to design and make. There is a lot of work and a huge amount of detail in private commissions, but they really are my passion. It’s a totally fulfilling experience for me to see a project through from my very first drawing to the final installation.”

Jo Downs: Westminster Tower, fused glass desk

Jo Downs: Westminster Tower, fused glass desk

Find Jo Downs Handmade Glass at 128 High Street, Ripley, Surrey, GU23 6AY  | 01483 225742 | www.jodowns.com | ripley@jodowns.com

Jo Downs: Arcadia cruise liner fused glass ceiling

Jo Downs: Arcadia cruise liner fused glass ceiling