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louis thompson

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

 meet louis thompson Image

meet louis thompson

Louis Thompson was 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 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.’


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 and the British Glass Biennale in 2017.

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

Given that most museums and galleries employ a strict ‘do not touch’ approach, Louis is temptation personified with his latest works. You could say they’re the ultimate tease.

“My recent work is about trying to create a desire in the viewer that compels them to want to touch my work. It’s a very illicit thing to do. Very rarely are we invited to engage in objects beyond the visual. I want to make pieces that enrich the visual experience with a physical one. I’m encouraging a closer, more intimate inspection, I want to arouse the longing to touch the pieces.” Of course, whether he wants people to actually touch them is another matter. His pieces for Collect 2018 stem from a long-standing interest in expressing ideas beyond purely the visual.

“The installation of glass bottles exhibited at Salisbury Cathedral in 2016 and the Intangible series of large scale water-filled pieces completed for the Jerwood Commission in 2012 have all been about that,” he explains. “This new work is another thread of this theme but explored in a radically different way.”

Colour, too, plays a significant part in these new pieces. “The colourways are bright, vivid and bold – saturated and very, very intense. The richness of colour conjuring up something toy-like with a sense of playfulness. After all toys are meant to be played with and not just looked at.” Using opaque glass colour which has a matt, satin-like surface, the pieces are lightly textured giving them a skin-like quality.

“I wanted to take the glassiness away a little bit,” Louis continues. “Glass is just so incredibly seductive. Even broken glass absorbs and reflects light in a magical way. I want these objects to be viewed and considered beyond the decorative quality of the material.

“The shapes and forms are informed by references to the human body – touch and feeling, folds and creases, bumps and curves. There’s a sense of interplay between hand and surface which is echoed and reflected in the way that these objects are made, a process I thoroughly enjoy.” So given the bold series he’s set to show, is he nervous of the reaction from Collect’s oh-so- discerning audience?

“Whenever you do something new, fresh and unexpected there’s a level of excitement and a sense of uncertainty. To be honest it’s a complete unknown quantity what reaction the work will receive. It is new work and naturally I am anxious about showing it at such a prominent event.

“Collect has a vital commercial cache but it’s also important to look at work contextually. It’s a great vehicle to see your work in this international arena and see how your practice sits alongside peers; how collectors, buyers and critics, discuss and review.”

All of which suggests he’s not actually going to be there to see it. Instead, he’ll be in the Maldives.

“I’ll miss it which is a huge shame,” he says. “I am really gutted and I’ve been to every single Collect since it started. However, at least I’m missing it in style. The three-week residency in the Maldives (at the Soneva Art & Glass Studio) is an incredible opportunity. I’m looking forward to this exciting journey and showcasing new work at the London Glassblowing Gallery later on in 2018.”

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  • Louis Thompson working images
  • Louis Thompson working images_02

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