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Amphora Metaphor




H 175 cm W 460 cm D 22 cm


Handblown and cut glass




'Amphora Metaphor' is a unique wall-mounted installation by the American and Swiss artists, Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg. 

Free blown and carved glass with metal.

The culture of amphorae spans the globe: a symbol of technology, craftsmanship, commerce, agriculture, and especially culture; a ubiquitous and iconic container of beauty and practicality; a designed object of ingenious simplicity and grace; a symbol of civilization. Here its shape in the form of the hull of a ship implies the underwater wrecks found by archaeologists as well as the way they spread across the world: in the belly of ships.

In the artist’s own words;

"When we first started thinking about this exhibition we considered doing the entire show in black. It was seriously tempting. But as life-long colourists we hesitated. The installation Amphora Metaphor was the solution to honouring this desire, spread across four metres in bold, beautiful black. It gave us the opportunity to express our feelings about the relevance of history as it stretches through time.

Most of what we know about amphorae has been revealed through marine archaeology and evidence gathered from underwater shipwrecks. In yet another instance of fact reinforcing the prejudices of our imaginations, not a week after conceiving the black amphora wall a friend forwarded to us an image* of amphorae nestled in the approximate shape of the boat they had been travelling in when it sank, apparently due to their weight shifting in the hull. This delicious ‘coincidence’ underscores our natural inclination as artists towards history and understanding our past, and a desire to weave these things together in glass: an acknowledgement, as the critic James Yood once wrote, that ‘what we are is rooted in what we were, but we are always heading somewhere we have never been before'."

(*The image in question was a Roman wreck discovered off Kefalonia where it sank some time between 100 BCE and 100 CE, its cargo of 6000 amphorae still retaining the outline of the ship’s hull)

Baldwin & Guggisberg

Amphora Metaphor