“Glass is captivating. It is alive in the way that you can control its transparency, reflectivity and its form. It is a transparent canvas where the artist can fill in the blanks with a spectrum of colors and textures through myriad techniques.” - Florence
People, especially family, are a central theme in her artworks and most of her works explored the many facets, faces, moods and emotions in man. Her works are characteristically abstract and simple in lines and form, and effectively create an impression of fluidity, softness and malleability even in a material that is brittle and fragile. Florence creates work on both panels and more sculptural forms, often leveraging on the transparent and reflective qualities of glass to create illusion and depth even within a 2D piece.
Florence was trained in Manual and Applied Arts in Baharuddin Vocational Institute in Singapore from 1973 to 1975. There, she was one of forty students per cohort in the graphic design program – then known as commercial art – where she honed her skills in illustration and advertising.
Florence’s first encounter with glass was in 1984, when she contracted, supplied and installed glass for windows. Eager to explore more ways of creating art in glass, she flew to the biggest glass trade fair in Europe, held in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1990. Florence also travelled to Seattle, US, to learn the art of glass fusing and blowing from American artists Roger Nachman and Carmen.
In March of 1993, Florence curated and organized the first national art glass exhibition at the National Design Centre in Singapore. Titled “Passage of Evolution”, it aimed to highlight the versatility in glass and the state of glass expertise available in Singapore. The exhibition brought together students from local schools, local designers and internationally-renowned glass artists from the US, Belgium and the former Yugoslavia to create about 50 works of art and design in glass, ranging from pendants, abstract Chinese chess sets, three-dimensional wall murals, to a stained glass skylight. Some of Florence’s own creations, including her ‘Drapes’ and ‘Emotions’ abstract art series, were collected by private collectors.
Soon, Florence was leading a team of designers and artisans to create glass art works for landmark projects. One such example is a 14-ft glass etching at Tang Village, which was said to be the tallest piece of glass work in Singapore at the time. Another challenging project was the UOB Plaza’s Executive Suite, where it took seven designers over a six-month period to put together more than one thousand pieces of handcrafted art glass for the bamboo feature wall that spanned 203.75 meters in length and 3.5 meters in height.
Despite working with glass for more than twenty years, Florence remains extremely dedicated to this material, believing that there is more to glass that has yet to be explored. With new technology in the market, Florence continues to push the boundaries of the material with her unique eye for combining varied techniques and technology to execute her original concepts in glass.