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Fulgurances, cadere bene

by Vincent Voillat with Khaled ‘Ali, glassblower

Glass, metal stick, sand, 2014

The direct inspiration for this work were the “lightning stones”, or fulgurites, that form naturally from quartz sand when melted at very high temperatures by a lightning strike. The result is an irregular, sometimes branching, hollow and often porous tube of silica glass, or lechatelierite. Many pieces of almost pure natural silica glass are found in the desert of Egypt and Libya.


Vincent Voillat set out with Khaled Ali, the glassblower, to create artificial fulgurites. This required a considerable amount of trial and error, especially since putting sand directly into the kiln would make the kiln unfit for further use, and building a dedicated furnace for just this purpose was ruled out. Eventually, they found a satisfactory technique and experimentation with different kinds of sand from various sources resulted in obtaining different textures and colours of the impure glass. The tubular artificial “lighting stones” were cast over metal rods. “I found it very interesting to work with a glassblower on reproduction of objects created by a powerful and almost esoteric physical phenomenon” says Voillat.


“These pieces make material and visible a powerful flow of energy. Like the natural fulgurites that freeze in time the instant of a thunderbolt strike, these objects are a record of different natural and human forces that had to intersect with concepts and ideas in a common territory so they could be created. They are an imprint of the process of transition and transformation of form and matter”. The cast pieces of glass with embedded grains of sand, strung on brass rods, are vaguely reminiscent of the multicolour bars created by “the Stick Man” André Cadere, a French/Romanian artist born in Poland, who was emblematic of the Minimal Art scene in the 1960s and 70s.


One of the rods strung with the casts in glass and sand is exactly as long as Khaled ‘Ali is tall – a jocular acknowledgement of a fruitful collaboration.

Klio Krajewska, curator



For Khaled, carrying out Vincent’s concept of mixing sand with melted glass was tricky. An attempt to do it inside the kiln would have completely ruined the kiln. Special tools had to be bought from Sabtiya, a market not far from the city centre that deals with all kinds of metal hardware, and many trials were needed before achieving the desired results. Vincent’s idea was highly creative and complex, and communication was not easy, not only because of the language barrier, but also conceptually. Moreover, this work interfered with Khaled’s other commissions, but he doesn’t regret it. He believes he benefitted a lot from being exposed to a completely new idea, and now he actually uses his new tools in his own work

based on the interview with Taher ‘Abd al-Ghani of ARCHiNOS Architecture

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