about - Julie Fiona Thornton 

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Julie Fiona Thornton is an artist who has in her life experience, explored many different creative avenues that has provided her with an amazing perspective on life. She is conscious of the living planet around her as an artist and where she sources her materials from, when making and creating her work. Get to know Julie more... read below


"My first job after college was Assistant Arts worker within an inner city children’s charity. Under the tutelage and support of a skilled and supportive Community Arts worker, I learnt screen printing; co-created and performed hand puppet shows; and quickly learnt basic circus skills to teach at weekly workshop which ultimately led me to train at the circus school in Bristol from where I ran away with a contemporary circus & physical theatre company. This cycle of Art to Circus, is one that I have repeated several times over many years but seem to have recently broken.

Being a trapeze artist now is beyond my reach; art never leaves me.


At 10 years old I stuck Bryant & May match boxes together into sets of drawers for small stuff, indulging a need to collect, store and categorise.

From 15 years onwards I have collected and stored my Nephews’ pictures and then their baby teeth (as they fell out). I became the accidental family depository/library.


I moved around a lot, until settling in Calderdale, totting up 28 addresses across 6 cities, including living in a vehicle and a couple of years in South Africa. Whilst my transitory lifestyle necessitated a constant letting go of material possessions I always managed to acquire enough to fill shelves and letterpress drawers with fossils, shells, sea glass, leaves, seeds and other tiny but interesting stuff."

"Much of my inspiration is drawn from the natural sciences which pretty much encompasses everything I encounter and explore, be it the minutiae of a tardigrade to the vastness of nebulae; microscopic to astronomic; mundane to extraordinary and all that lay between including human and inhuman behaviour and impact on our everyday existence.

Creative Process

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Whilst my go-to media are oil pastels and chalks, which I find endlessly versatile and the colours beautifully sharp - much like glass - it was the leaded-lines that first intrigued me, laying in a bath staring at a large contemporary stained glass panel, trying to envisage how my oil pastel work would translate into this medium. 

Glass is an extraordinary material to handle and work with.

The first time I scored and then broke a piece of glass was a moment of wonder and joy. It fills me with glee when I see this moment repeated by my students.


There always seems to be something else to do with glass; new to learn; another way of treating it and of seeing it.

I cut, grind, melt, fuse, powder, paint, etch, sand blast, colour, shine, dull, mould.


Glass is everywhere. It is infinitely re-recyclable.

Having to use up all the scrap glass I had accumulated because I had no money for new was a huge eye opener for me and the beginning of a new journey. I started out in a real grump about it. I resented it. Then I discovered a freeness, an openness to the glass, the shapes the colour. I realised that I could use any glass.


The very nature of re-purposed glass often informs my creative process and outcome of works.


Consequently, my aim is to work with predominantly pre-used glass - glass that has served a previous function; found, salvaged, scrounged, gifted, reclaimed and rescued glass.


Much of the glass I use behaves differently in a kiln to ‘art glass’ (which is created for purpose), as such, much of my creative work is material-lead and I find that the older the glass, the more organic the outcome. When the completed form emerges I might then take time and pleasure finishing it with paint, sandblasting or etching.


My glass work often includes sea glass from the beaches of the world, tempered window & door glass, picture frame glass, local old mill windows, marbles, bottles and crockery - basically, any glass that would otherwise head to land-fill.


I live comfortably with my need to group, order, catalogue and display. Sixteen years and much learning later I find myself with an artist’s studio chock full of glass; many panels and glass produce later all waiting to be made into lovely glass art.