Liliya Pangelova: My pupils in Malta create with enigma and surprise

Each Monday, on the website of NEF ‘13 Century of Bulgaria’, we present one of the six nominees for the National Prizein support of young talents in the arts and science.

text and interview: Magdalena Gigova

Liliya Pangelova has a Bachelor’s degree in Porcelain and Glass Design from the National Academy of Fine Arts, Sofia, and a Master’s degree in Ceramic and Glass Design from the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul, Turkey.

Currently, she is studying for aMaster’s degree in Art Education and Research at the University of Malta. She was Assistant at the Bernard Heesen and Leerdam Studios, Leerdam, Holland, and at Nový Bor and Zajec, Czechia.

She has participated in the projects ‘Reconstructing an Ancient Roman Furnace for Glassmaking’, ‘Villa Borg Archaeological Park’, Germany, and ‘Reconstructing Ancient Roman Glassmaking Techniques’, the Provincial Archaeological Museum, Velzece, Belgium.

Her successes rank her among the six nominees for the NEF ‘13 Century of Bulgaria’ National Prizein support of young talents in the arts and science.

Liliya continues to live in Malta, from where she explained,exclusively for theNEF ‘13 Century of Bulgaria’ website, what she has been doing in recent months: ‘In February of the current year, I conducted teaching practicewith pupils in the fourth and fifth year at a secondary school in Victoria on the island of Gozo in Malta. During the practice, I applied interactive and creative methods in the teaching of figurative art, which included drawing and improvisation in a team, and mastering a variety of techniques and materials. The pupils were creating with enigma and surprise. For example, one of the tasks was to recreate their emotion in an image that the others had to guess.

Since July, I have been working as a teacher and animator in anall-day summer school with children of local and foreign origin (Maltese, English, Italian, Spanish, Serbian, and including Bulgarians), with whom I conduct creative classes of a mixed nature. They represent not only classes in drawing and painting, but also dancing, music, drama, and the applied arts. The focus of my work is to teach the necessary knowledge indirectly, through gaming elements that are learned faster and with more interest than with standard training. Owing to the fact that the environment is multicultural, I rely on non-verbal communication—for which the arts are particularly suitable.’


Miss Pangelova replied to several questions on the NEF ‘13 Century of Bulgaria’ website:

Are you surprised that two ladies who are engaged in the treatment of glass are nominated for the National Prize of the ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ Fund?

The participation of two young women as creators in the field of artistic glass is pretty much unique owing to the nature of the work and the dominant presence of men in this sphere. This fact can only be a reason for national pride and prestige.


Is anyone else in your family involved in this kind of art?

I grew up in an environment of artists and intellectuals, thanks to which I developed my personal talent and artistic style.


It is evident from your specialisations that you are mastering different techniques, national styles and ways of artistic treatment of glass. Is that a deliberate aspiration or a concurrence of circumstances?

I believe that professionalism manifests itself in the detailed study and acquisition of a specialism in both philosophical and material terms. In this regard, the temporal journeys to the history of glass in Antiquity, the poetisation of the material and its conceptual rationalisation, as well as the perfection of the various techniques of processing glass in a cold or hot state, have been the deliberate direction of my research.


In some of your projects, you are dealing with a peculiar archaeology—you are reconstructing ancient Roman furnaces for producing glass. What are the challenges?

Communicating with such an ancient craft as glass-blowing is an encounter of the individual with his past as some kind of ‘inner’ archaeology. Ancient furnaces for glass are built by hand from natural materials and are kept at the temperature necessary to melt the glass by constant loading with wood.

In this regard, what I find valuable in the restoration of ancient Roman furnaces is the rediscovery of man’s connection with the land and the community through the recycling of natural raw materials and the collective work necessary for the proper functioning of this type of structure and the final product.

Antiquity can serve modern man in looking back to his roots as he rediscovers himself in the process of joint creativity.


Have you studied ancient glass in the Bulgarian lands?

Based on my Master’s thesis on ‘Ancient Roman Techniques of Treatment and Decoration of Glass’, I continue my research on the theme of the origin and methodology of the production of antique glass artefacts in Bulgaria and abroad. Compared with the glass products that I have analysed in Germany, Turkey and Malta, I can say that Bulgaria is rich in unique finds from Antiquity, some of which are displayed at the Regional History Museum in Stara Zagora and the National Archaeological Museum in Sofia. On the territory of the capital, the remains of an ancient furnace for melting glass were discovered, providing proof of the presence of an ancient glass industry in Sofia.

All this means that glass was one of the existing and important crafts in these lands, which has yet to be extensively explored, accepted and propagated as part of Bulgarian history and culture.

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