2022 has been a productive year for Costa Rican artist Juli Bolaños-Durman, who has completed a number of significant projects over recent months. The work she crafts at her Custom Lane studio can currently be seen in various public settings, including the exhibition Long Live the Christmas Tree! at Harewood House in Yorkshire, as well as at watch brand Vacheron Constantin’s Edinburgh store.
For the Harewood House event, Juli teamed up with carpenter Jonny Taylor to reinterpret the classic Christmas tree, using discarded glass combined with wood offcuts to form a stacked sculpture. The open brief led Juli to design one of the largest structures she has created so far in her career, which only came together at the last moment. “We didn’t know exactly what the piece would look like until a week before the exhibition,” Juli recalls. “I always have an idea of the colours and proportions but from there I have to trust the process. Fortunately this turned out really nicely.”
We didn’t know exactly what the piece would look like until a week before the exhibition. I always have an idea of the colours and proportions but from there I have to trust the process
The piece, which is titled ‘Stackings’, combines Juli’s signature hand-cut salvaged glass with wooden elements, with both the glass and timber contributing to the structure. At the end of the festive period, the installation will be disassembled and split into components that can be reused as stools or small tables.
For watch brand Vacheron Constantin, Juli was invited to contribute to a group exhibition celebrating the ideas of heritage, provenance and traditional craft. Four Scottish makers each used locally sourced materials to produce artworks or functional objects that are presented in the company’s Edinburgh showroom alongside its luxury timepieces.
Juli compiled unwanted items from the local community including a lampshade and a blown-crystal vessel to create a one-off sculpture. “This piece embodies the possibilities inherent in giving discarded objects a second chance which is what my work is all about,” says Juli. “The project represents an interesting take on the luxury market and my contribution shows that even unwanted things belong in this high-end setting.”
A project that has been several years in the making is also currently on public display at the Scottish Parliament building in Holyrood. The sculptural work was originally commissioned by Edinburgh & Lothian’s Health Foundation for The Royal Edinburgh Hospital but its installation was delayed, providing an opportunity for its temporary relocation.
Our Common Humanity represents this need for human connection and the hope that even when something breaks it can turn into something beautiful.
The piece, titled ‘Our Common Humanity’, consists of 38 sculptural objects created using discarded glass donated by the hospital community. The glass is placed within a vitrine designed and crafted in collaboration with architecture office GRAS that incorporates lighting to produce dynamic, overlapping shadows. Developed through a series of workshops with the hospital’s psychiatric patients, the installation embodies ideas of community, interaction and healing through the collation of disparate glass elements that were embellished by hand.
“The workshops helped me understand the importance of everyday interactions and how much better this contact can make people feel,” Juli explains. “Our Common Humanity represents this need for human connection and the hope that even when something breaks it can turn into something beautiful.”
Lastly, some of Juli’s pieces have been selected by Hugo Macdonald and James Stevens to be stocked at their shop Bard at Custom Lane. The sculptures are displayed alongside a broad array of objects by some of Scotland’s best designers and makers, and are available to buy either in store or through Bard’s online shop.
Looking back on her busy year, Juli says she’s glad for the opportunities to engage in such diverse commissions that challenge her and support her practice as it continues to evolve. “These projects are like being paid to learn,” she adds. “With each one I try to push myself outside of my comfort zone so I don’t waste the chance to do something that is surprising even to me. Off the back of these commissions I have a thousand new ideas for what might come next.” We’re already looking forward to seeing what Juli gets up to in 2023.