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layne rowe

"Complex, intricate and skilful..."

 meet layne rowe Image

meet layne rowe

Layne Rowe is an extremely gifted and experienced glass artist who has worked with Peter Layton for over 15 years, during which his approach to colour, form and surface pattern has evolved radically.

His current preoccupation, inspired by the Devon coastline, has been evolving for several years, and is what he calls his ‘Woven Forms’. This series of work is a result of intricate layering of different pre-made coloured canes around a molten form that is twisted and, when cold, cut into with a diamond wheel, to reveal vibrant colours beneath the surface.

The effect is like water over precious stones or the rock with its glimmering colours beneath reflecting natural growth and corrosion.

The resulting pattern and texture of the pieces has an extraordinary complexity that demands the close attention of discerning viewers to discover the hidden secrets and subtle delicacy of their intricate detail.

‘I enjoy observing people’s reactions to my work, everything is up for interpretation, my work is diverse and complex and sometimes subversive. It invites you to look again and again.’

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Layne’s journey in glass began in 1994 during his degree course in 3D design at the University of Central Lancashire.

On graduating he worked at London Glassblowing for a number of years before moving to Brazil.  Whilst there he set up a glass studio and another in Hertfordshire before rejoining Peter Layton at the Leathermarket.  He has worked at London Glassblowing for over sixteen years ‘on and off’.

Layne’s work has been widely exhibited around the world, notably in the V&A’s ‘Power of Making’ exhibition and at Collect at the Saatchi Gallery in 2013 and 2014.  During 2014 he showed alongside Grayson Perry and Alexander McQueen in “Subversive Design”, at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

In 2015 Layne won the Design Award Bavarian State Prize in the category for cane overlay technique.

the video

Video Shim

the interview

Regardless of whether you know Layne Rowe or not, chances are you will know his work. His ‘Woven’ series has been one of the most photographed in recent years, appearing on magazine front covers, newspaper spreads and show programmes alike.

Complex, intricate and skilful, the success of these pieces has really put Layne on the map.

Yet this is no accident.

“It’s taken a long time to get to this level of making,” he says honestly. “I have spent years trying out different techniques; experimenting with colours and styles, shapes and forms.

“I really feel these pieces and I will continue to make them. They are my signature works and I think there is a real appreciation from the public as to the complexity of the work involved. It is a hugely complicated process but the great thing about these pieces is that you can see the detail.”

Of course, with success comes pressure – pressure to replicate that same success again and again.

“It’s definitely got a lot busier recently,” Layne says, his face cracking into a smile. “And of course there’s lots more pressure. It’s hard to come up with something as good as that again but I’ve been doing this for a long time now so hopefully I can develop something else that’s as good – or better.”

With an impressive back catalogue to fall back on, he shouldn’t worry. He created a series of violent objects in glass – a gun, a hand grenade – and transformed them into emblems of hope and peace by interjecting flowers into the gun chamber and grenade pin.

“Anything can be an inspiration,” says Layne, “but often if you go looking for it that’s when you struggle with ideas.

“Sometimes it’s about showing restraint…not getting carried away with an idea you might have which takes your focus away from any current projects. Often it’s more about trusting your work rather than flitting around hoping to pull something amazing out of nowhere.

“People think that glass is incredibly vulnerable. That is why I like the shapes I make because people seem comfortable with them. They’re heavy, they work well in a room and they don’t fall over!

“I also like the fact you can live with them. I understand the commercial aspects of our work and people often like forms they are used to, or to buy something that’s attractive to them on a number of different levels.”

So what are the trademark characteristics of his works?

“The piece has to be well made,” he says. “It’s got to be either challenging or a challenge. People have to got to look at it and be quite overwhelmed by the way it is made. It also has to be beautiful or attractive.”

Looking at Layne’s work it’s easy to agree. His sculptures are hypnotic, with the beholder seeing more and more the longer it’s held in their gaze.

Of course, Layne is equally enthralled by the artists around him. Indeed, he marvels at Peter Layton’s longevity.

“It’s simply incredible that Peter still has such passion and energy for glass,” he nods. “As an ambassador for glass there is no-one better and he has put this industry firmly on the map.

“The glass world is enjoying a great period as a result of his dedication and it’s nice to be at the forefront of this resurgence.”

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Layne Rowe: a neighbourhood portrait

Watch the video below to see a feature video of Layne Rowe shot for menswear designer Hardie Amies’ Neighbourhood Portraits series, in which he discusses his love for the Bermondsey area and his own glassmaking process.

Video Shim

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