Having spent his childhood living with his American mother and French father in West Africa, then with his aunt in Paris, an 18-year-old Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert headed to the US and walked into an artisan’s studio in Seattle. There, he experienced the magical alchemy of molten glass for the very first time. ‘I saw this man take a gather of glass on a blowpipe and turn it in his hand,’ says Maxwell Wintrebert. ‘That was the first time I met hot glass and I was truly amazed. Suddenly I knew, there and then, that this was what wanted to do with the rest of my life.’
After studying in San Francisco, Jacksonville and Murano, Italy (‘the Mecca for glassblowers’), Maxwell Wintrebert now bases himself in a rural area just outside Paris, frequently travelling to any European city with a roaring crucible furnace.
The work is intense and requires profound discipline, concentration and strength. Maxwell Wintrebert’s four apprentices move around him in a balletic, unspoken choreography, instinctively knowing when to shield his face and hands from the heat, or when to put lips to rod and blow. ‘What’s amazing about glass is that we never get to touch it,’ says Maxwell Wintrebert. ‘It is hot and dangerous, but it has soul. I want to learn glass’s language, converse with it and bring out its magic via my work.’