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The London Glassblowing studio has nurtured and produced some of the world's leading glass artists and continues to do so to this day. The exhibition presents sculpture by four of its star glass artists:
Artist, pioneer, mentor, Peter Layton is one of the founding fathers of British studio glass. He discovered the art while teaching ceramics in the US in the 1960s, and has played a major part in elevating glass from an industrial medium to a highly collectable art form. Most importantly, he gave it a home in the UK.
Peter started with a small glass studio in the Highlands of Scotland while relying on pottery to ensure a living. However, the big city called, as did glass - it needed more dedicated champions. In 1976 he opened the first London Glassblowing Workshop in an old towage works on the Thames at Rotherhithe and later on moved to Bermondsey.
Peter takes inspiration from his environment, natural or manmade: a stone wall on a snowy day, the London skyline, or works by great painters. From a mere detail, a flash of a Klimt orange or a slick of oil on the Thames, he creates painterly works with a masterly use of colour. Throughout his career, he has been courted by major art institutions, commercial buyers and private collectors. His work is held in various museums in the UK, Europe and America, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK.
Bruce Marks' Birds have attracted an avid and enthusiastic public following. Bruce has achieved deceptively simple abstract forms, which allude to bird shapes. He says: I am a long-time admirer of the sculptor Brancusi. I envy his ability to capture the essence of his subject, creating a purity of form with minimal detail, whilst projecting profound presence. Bruce's response has been to strip back his forms to achieve an exquisite simplicity retaining a definite bird-like quality.
Laura McKinley's fascination for glass as a creative medium stems from its capacity to constantly alter her initial thoughts and expectations. The spontaneity of the hot material demands instant visual judgments that give rise to shifts in her ideas. These allow her to make tangible her explorations of volume, scale and the random interplay of forms. Serendipity and the unexpected often point the way to the next starting point for making. An element of her inspiration is the Italian technique Incalmo. This involves the hot joining of two separately blown glass bubbles of different colour to form one piece, the join then becoming invisible. Once cold, the fluidity of these objects is interrupted by cutting to expose voids which enable the viewer to see both the internal and exterior spaces. The varying thickness of glass and polished angled surfaces create ever-changing effects of light and shadow, a characteristic that is exploited to create an environment of illusion. Laura's work is an invitation to engage with the tranquil beauty of the incidental.
Vezzini & Chen's work is defined by the artful marriage of hand carved ceramics and blown glass. The collections tread a fine line between functional and conceptual, with the design duo creating sculptural hand crafted lighting, glassware, interior accessories and installation pieces.
22 x 22 x 23 cms
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Laura's interest in play and the inviting qualities of glass are strong motifs throughout her work.
Toys trigger memories and evoke emotions. Laura wants to arouse this compulsion to play and create a sense of childlike curiosity of the world, conveying these qualities in an adult's eyes.
She wishes to make objects that encourage interaction with the viewer, by making playful and tactile familiar yet unfamiliar objects that evoke past experiences. Using hot glass Laura is creating installations of components that reference toys of childhood, a subject matter that will directly contradict the delicate and fragile material in which they are created.