British Glass Artist
Peter Layton is one of the world’s most widely respected glass artists. 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”.
As a child, Peter went to school in Bradford, where his aptitude as an artist was first recognised and which led to him becoming friends with David Hockney. 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 of art as soon as he got home. He applied to Bradford Art College and then went to London’s Central School of Art and Design to specialise in ceramics.
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. He 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 and Honorary Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers and also been given the Freedom of the City of London.
“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.”
At the age of 75, Peter says, “I have so much that I still want to do. You can never create the perfect piece of glass and there are always new ideas, techniques and other challenges to master. Glass is such an underrated medium – there is a fluidity and uncertainty which I choose to embrace rather than overcome.”