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louis thompson

"exploring every possibility in shape & form..."

shim
 meet louis thompson Image

meet louis thompson

Louis Thompson was recently interviewed by Charlotte Abrahams for Crafts Magazine about his work for Collect 2017 at the Saatchi Gallery. Read the interview at this link.

Louis Thompson is one of the most exciting and sought after glass artists working in Britain today. Having worked with various masters around the world, he has now blown glass with Peter Layton at London Glassblowing for over 10 years. During this time he has also completed a prestigious Masters degree at the Royal College of Art and been invited to create installations for various museums and international exhibitions.

His work is largely concept-based, taking an idea and exploring its every possibility by shaping and refining both technique and form. Inspired by an installation he made for the Sigmund Freud Museum in London, he began to take great interest in Freud’s writings on dream analysis, creating pieces that combine both scientifically precise apparatus with jars representing captured dreams or emotions.  These collections display a sequential narrative; ‘It’s something that’s repeated but not repetitive – taking a form and twisting and distorting it in every way to show the diverse range of possibility of a single object.’

In recent works he has used his own DNA profile as a starting point to investigate some of these themes. Each group of pieces represents a sequence or a set of DNA markers that contain a DNA helix specimen. It is all part of Louis’ desire to ensure that his works elicit a haptic experience, inviting the viewer to be ‘compelled to touch, to discover for themselves the reality of the art works.’

biography

Louis Thompson gained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1988. Since then he has worked with a number of glass artists in the UK and abroad, taught at Universities, attended and led numerous masterclasses, and was a teaching assistant at the famous Pilchuck Glass School in 2001.

He joined London Glassblowing in 2003 and while there, completed his Masters degree at the Royal College of Art in 2011. The following year he was the recipient of two highly prestigious awards, the Jerwood Makers Prize Commission and the Best Exhibit Prize at the British Glass Biennale. Louis has also been selected for the New Glass Review 38.

His work has been exhibited extensively at galleries and museums in the UK, Europe, Japan and the USA and he has been invited to create installations for various museums and international exhibitions. He has exhibited at the International Exhibition of Glass in Kanazawa, Japan in 2010, COLLECT at the Saatchi Gallery, London and SOFA Chicago in 2013. In 2014 he exhibited at the Glazenhuis Museum in Belgium and was selected for the European Glass Prize Exhibition in Coburg, Germany.

the video

Video Shim

the interview

“No-one has ever asked me why I’m doing this,” Louis muses. He’s not taken aback but is definitely pondering the question as we sit at the back of London Glassblowing’s studio in Bermondsey Street trying to cool down.

“I went to university originally to study industrial design with a view to becoming a product designer. Then I saw someone blowing glass and it was like being hypnotised. I’d never seen it done before and it was just the coolest thing imaginable.

“Admittedly I wasn’t thinking of the career path. I just knew that I wanted to explore my relationship with glass. Luckily though I landed a job with Adam Aaronson as soon as I graduated – hugely fortunate in all honesty and since then I’ve spent more than a quarter century working with glass. Pretty scary when you say it like that.”

After time spent learning and experimenting with his own style, Louis’ first collection was called ‘Screaming Heads’ which he describes affectionately as “very direct, literal, humorous and playful”.

Looking at the pieces retrospectively they have an innate freshness to them; a tongue-in-cheek statement to what glass art should be about perhaps.

He explains: “It was my first serious stab at trying to develop my own work and I loved it.”

While his style has changed somewhat in the following years, Louis manages to retain this sideways look at life. An innovator regardless of what he’s making, Louis’ portfolio presents a body of work that explores functional objects; distinctive features for interior and exterior spaces, lighting, product and installations.

His fanbase has grown too, with shows across the world and awards to boot. Among the most-prized gongs is the prestigious Jerwood Maker’s prize in 2012 as well as Best in Show at the 2012 Glass Biennale.

The pinnacle of his career?

“Obviously it’s fabulous for any artist to be recognised and I was hugely honoured by these awards but I hope there’s plenty more to come,” he smiles.

Although by no means nomadic, Louis has moved around a fair bit during his life and is on his second stint at London Glassblowing.’

“The glass world is very small and I’d met Peter a couple of times. Then he commissioned the studio I was working at – E+M in Cheshire – to produce some samples for a restoration job at the Savoy Theatre. We never lost our connection and it’s been phenomenal to work both with him and alongside him.”

Louis’ approach changed dramatically after embarking on a two-year Masters Degree in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal Collect of Arts.

“It was a massive commitment, both for me and my very understanding wife,” Louis recounts. “Yet that time really underpins everything I do. It is very difficult to translate an idea directly into the material quickly – it needs time to evolve. You need to nurture and grow and experiment and screw it up and then start again. In fact, some of the screw ups give you the best inspiration.

“I’m a great believer in doing other things to enrich your life. I go off to see other glass makers, I do short courses, I’ve taught in universities, I discover other techniques and approaches. I’m off to Belgium shortly to do a residential for a week because it’s important to me as an artist to experience new things and bring in other influences to my work.”

Packing up his suitcase once more, it’s Louis’ thirst for knowledge which shows in his much-admired work.

He’ll never stop making incredible glass art but don’t expect him to stand still anytime soon.

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  • Louis Thompson working images
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