Galleries - February 2011

painterly/sculptural end ofthe studio glass spectrum, London Glassblowing is, well into its fourth decade oflife, still changing the way we look at, and think about, this astonishing medium. The unfortunate situation that confronts the award-winning Wed- gwood Museum means that as a result of2005 legislation it finds itselftechnically responsible for the £134m black hole in the company’s pension fund. Conse- quently this irreplaceable collec- tion is threatened with sale and dispersion. Crisis also threatens the Broadfield House Glass Museum which holds a comp- arably important collection relating to the Stourbridge glass industry. After much local debate and acrimony, the British Glass Found- ation charity was launched last November to raise funds to secure the future of the glass collections and archives. Considering the popularity ofthe biennial Festival ofGlass, it does seem short- sighted ofDudley council not to cherish such a national treasure. A campaign of a different nature is being waged by North Lands Creative Glass at Lybster in north east Scotland who are raising B LOWN AWAY Sarah Drury 11. GALLERIES FEBRUARY 11 The move, just 18 months ago, from a comparatively tucked away warehouse in Leather Market near London Bridge to the large, walk- in-off-the-street gallery and work- ing space it now occupies on super-trendy Bermondsey Street, has had, as you might have expected, a hugely significant impact on the way the London Glassblowing Studio has started to develop. With Poussin Gallery, Delfina Studios, the Fashion & Textile Museum and Andrew Logan all very near, and well- regarded, neigh-bours (and the huge Shard building going up round the corner on top of London Bridge station) this is a street with a large and very art and design oriented footfall. Peter Layton, the studio’s founder some 35 years ago, has noticed a huge increase in the number of casual visitors (and buyers) drawn in, first by the glam-orous gallery and then, even fur- ther in, by the theatrical drama of the constantly working hot glass studio behind it. Always, one senses, something of a natural showman, Layton has even plac- ed rows of chairs so that visitors can stay, watch and ask quest- ions! One of the pioneers of the studio glass movement in this country, Layton’s was a passion picked up as it first developed in mid-60s America and something of the intensely co-operative ethos of that period still, unmistakably, pervades this new space, with a group of five or six glass artists of all ages and distinctive gifts, constantly at work. On the money to establish a fund in memory of one of their founders, Dan Klein. When Klein died in 2009 the glass world was united in its sense of loss: as writer, curator and lecturer he had been imme- nsely influential. It is a sign of his importance that Adam Aaronson, who runs a co-operative studio set-up very much like that of Peter Layton, at Zest Gallery in Fulham, recently arranged an anonymous sale of work by a variety of glass artists, some well-known, others less so, in aid of the North Lands fund. (Worth noting too that they run half-day classes for novices.) Perhaps the medium encourages mutual support: when the brilliant Stephen Procter (1946-2001) died of cancer he was mourned both in this country and in Australia, his adopted home, and a travelling fellowship was set up in his name to enable students to spend time abroad. There is an opportunity to see his work in a touring exhibition from the Crafts Council, at Bilston Craft Gallery in the West Midlands until 19 March. ‘ Breath Taking’ covers the latest wave of British glass blowing with pieces by 21 makers. To really get a sense of Procter’s range and ability though, I recommend ‘Lines through Light’, a beautifully designed book published in 2008 with, appro- riately enough, an essay by Dan Klein. P eter Layton Small Pink Stone Form, glass, at London Glass Blowing Zoe Garner at Zest Gallery SILKY SILICA N icholas Usherwood