top of page
Karen Cunningham Glass Artist
Karen Cunningham Glass Artist

Born in Adelaide, Australia, Karen Cunningham is an accomplished glass artist and former Creative Director of the Glass Studio at JamFactory in Adelaide from 2012 - 2019. Drawing on the phenomenological qualities of molten glass, Karen creates functional and sculptural blown forms that celebrate the interplay of light and the beauty of the natural world. She also enjoys incorporating other materials and found objects into her practise, and currently divides her time between Adelaide and the remote west coast of British Columbia, Canada.

Karen completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Glass) at the University of South Australia and was awarded the Design Instute of Australia Achievement Award for Glass Design in 2005 for her Honours (First Class) work. During her training as a Glass Associate at JamFactory, Karen was selected for the Pilchuck Scholarship which took her to Seattle, USA. In 2008, she went on to win the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award and mentorship with Marc Newson in London. Karen has also trained and worked in studios in Germany, Turkey, United States, and Canada.

In 2009, Karen became a tenant at Blue Pony Studio in Adelaide where she began a collaboration with fellow glass artist Mandi King. Together they founded illumini, based on their shared values of sustainability and the handmade. Their first project, the illumini decanter, won the national LaunchPad Design Award and was selected for the London Design Festival in 2011. A Creative Australia residency took Karen and Mandi to Finland, where the immersion in rich Scandinavian design culture subsequently informed another illumini project - the illumini domestic greenhouse. This hybrid work toured with the exhibition Glass: Art, Design, Architecture, and incorporated elements of all three approaches to making glass.

Recently, Karen forged new territory with scientists at the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics, becoming the first to incorporate luminescent diamond nanoparticles into blown glass. Developed with a grant from Creative Australia, this work earned her a solo exhibition Quantum Colour: Capturing the Movement of Light. At the intersection of art and science, Karen's discoveries with the material have gone on to spark innovation in the field of quantum sensing.

Karen Cunningham & Mandi King
Karen Cunningham & IPAS Scientists
bottom of page