The last of his kind, Paul McClarin was a professional crafter of glass eyes. Often considered a less than attractive concept, looking closer at the intricacies of the design and production, the process of making glass eyes is actually pretty phenomenal.
But the professionals capable of this art form are now dwindling, so much so that we are saying goodbye to one of the last. McClarin’s work has been curated and displayed at The National Gallery, as the nation remembers his particular skill set before it is replaced by automated technology.
The legacy of one of Australia’s last great oculists Paul McClarin is being celebrated by The National Museum of Australia.
The process is that which combines creativity, glass blowing and a personal touch. The senior curator of the National Museum, Dr Sophie Jensen has commented on the importance of McClarin’s work: “His feeling, very much, was that he was restoring people’s dignity, people’s sense of self. Because they could look you in the eye and know that they looked completely like themselves.”
After a chance encounter with specialist Erwin Scheler, the former glassblower made the transition into glass eyes. With a background in making scientific instruments, McClarin was fascinated by the specific artistry of making eyes.
Travelling between Australia and the German town of Lauscha, where the production of glass eyes first began, McClarin is now remembered as one of the best in his field.
While there is still an element of squeamishness when it comes to glass eyes, it’s hard to deny that the precision of these creations is phenomenal.