Tolly has a degree in Textiles and is also a serious photographer. Both of these elements are clear within her Glasswork and these skills are also often an integral part of the piece. Tolly is constantly mesmerized by the sometimes overlooked details of nature which are a continual source of inspiration for her art. Her enthusiasm for the natural world stems from her family background of nature-orientated passions whilst her wider appreciation cores from extensive foreign travel, and taking part in wildlife research projects abroad.
Having worked under some of the most influential and eminent glass artists in Sweden and the U.S, this has fuelled Tolly’s delight in the material itself. By using a combination of techniques she bases her work around the qualities in glass she appreciates the most – its vulnerability but also its solidity. With this wide appreciation of what glass has to offer, Tolly’s work ranges from the popular, tiny, pate-de-verre ‘Whimsicals’ which are a fun, contemporary take on the ancient little mini glass objects found in museums, to large scale casts such as the 14 Galapagos Finch Beaks which she sculptured to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of The Origin of Species and which are having a significant impact on the Science and Art fields alike.
Tolly’s ‘Living Rock’ series focus on the relationship between living and non-living things, the solidity of one and the fragility of the other. As they grow and become more entwined, their boundaries merge together as one. As with her photography, where she accentuates colour or form by using comparison, this mergence of solid cast glass and fragile pate-de-verre accentuates the beauty of both and the surprise that each is composed of the same material.
“Using methods such as Pate-de–Verre I aim to extract and express the beauty of glass in its very fragile state, forming a ‘crust’ or an exoskeleton of what could be there – an artwork that has shed its skin and is left bare, exposed, raw and beautiful”