Peter Layton

London Glassblowing Workshop

Peter Layton's London Glassblowing is a hot glass studio focused on the creation and display of contemporary glass art. The studio has a reputation as one of Europe's leading glassmaking workshops with a particular flair for the use of colour, form and texture.  Each piece of glass is unique and signed by the artist.

PETER LAYTON is one of the world’s most widely respected glass artists and he has done more to promote glassmaking as an art form than anyone else in Europe.  He has influenced, encouraged and nurtured several of this country’s leading glassmakers and has inspired many more internationally. At the age of 75, Peter remains extremely active and is regarded as the ‘grand old man of glass’.  His work  can be found in museums, galleries and exhibitions across the UK, Europe and America. 

Peter Layton was born in Prague and brought up in England.  He went to school in Bradford, where his aptitude as an artist was first recognised and which led to him becoming friends with David Hockney.   ‘I got to know David quite well and even ended up going on holiday with him,’ says Layton.   ‘People laugh when I say, “I went camping with David Hockney”, but in those days I don’t think I even knew what being gay meant.’

Art was not a viable way to make a living in Bradford, so Layton found himself working in the textile business.   He was then called up to do his national service during which time he resolved to pursue his love his art as soon as he could.   He applied to Bradford Art College and then studied at London’s Central School of Art and Design, specialising in ceramics; he was taught by several of the most respected ceramicists of the day.   Peter was then offered a temporary teaching job in Iowa University’s ceramics department.   By chance, Harvey Littleton and a few colleagues were pioneering a revolutionary hot glass technique at the same time.  In 1962 Peter attended one of their first experimental workshops and became bewitched by the medium’s immediacy and spontaneity.

 ‘Glass is extraordinarily seductive,’ explains Peter. ‘Every piece is an adventure and you never know exactly what you have created until you open the kiln and see how a piece has turned out. I love that moment of surprise.’   Ever since Peter returned to Britain, he has been continuously at the forefront of promoting glassblowing as an art.   In 1969 he helped Sam Herman build the first furnace at the Glasshouse in Covent Garden and he subsequently established his own small glass studio at Morar in the Highlands of Scotland, a Glass Department at Hornsey College of Art (Middlesex University) and, in 1976, the London Glassblowing Workshop in an old towage works on the Thames at Rotherhithe. In 2009 Peter’s London Glassblowing Studio and Gallery moved to much larger premises in Bermondsey.

Along the way, Peter has written several books, received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Bradford, become an Honorary Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers and also been given the Freedom of the City of London.

Some glassmakers create technically brilliant pieces and follow a precise pattern, others prefer to create more abstract works of art that are looser and evolve during the creative process. Layton’s work falls firmly into the latter category and he is known for his strong use of colour, the use of organic forms and the sculptural quality of his larger pieces.

‘My pieces appeal to a wide audience and everyone from Elton John to the Duchess of Kent have bought my work. It is designed to be lived with and enjoyed as the light changes, not just viewed in a museum.’


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