Secrets shared by Jerwood Prize winner...

Louis Thompson’s talk at our most recent Members’ Meeting, Thursday 25 April, took us on a journey through his apprenticeship and career as a glass blower and glass artist.

His story culminated in his MA studies at the Royal College of Art (RCA). He attended as a mature student with 20 years’ worth of glass art already under his belt. This in turn led him to join the London studio where he now works: London Glassblowing. He also talked about winning the 2012 Jerwood prize and Best in Show at the 2012 Glass Biennale.

Louis was happy to share some of his secrets. For example, the Best in Show piece, Troupe: Dance Composition consisted of tall thin glass tubes, a few feet high, arranged as a group. To blow the long shapes he had to stand on a ladder. He then bent each tube like dancer’s legs bending at the knee. It should have been impossible for these tubes to stand without falling over – yet they defied gravity. How did he do it? He put strong magnets in the base of each piece so that they could stand firm and also be changed round to create new arrangements on a powerfully magnetic stand. Louis also shared his sources of inspiration including giant Chinese bells at the British Museum and collections at the Soane Museum, the Freud Museum and the Hunterian Museum.

Equally fascinating was his whistle-stop tour of work created by the team of glass artists at the studio. As an audience we were quietly spell-bound – but we responded with audible gasps and laughs at this point. Inspiration for pieces included baby birds’ open beaks, cat fur and volcanic beaches. Works ranged from glass woven like textiles to ceramic-style finishes - as well as small and finely-honed jewel-like pieces. He finished the talk by inviting HVA members to drop in to the studio during visiting hours.

Thanks to Louis Thompson for preparing such a fascinating and beautifully illustrated in-depth talk; and to Caroline Lumb for going to the dentist! (It just so happens her dentist is near the studio which inspired her to organise this talk for HVA.)