VETRO: Exploring the Venetian Influence

September 12th - October 18th


Opening to coincide with the start of the London Design Festival, London Glassblowing will be presenting one of their most enlightening and fascinating exhibitions to date.  

Fifteen artists, including some of the finest glassmakers in the UK today, have been challenged to produce outstanding new works that explore contemporary interpretations of traditional Italian techniques. Some techniques date back to the golden age of 15th Century Venetian glassblowing, others to Roman times. 

VETRO not only celebrates the outstanding vision, skill and precision of the traditional Italian glassmakers but also explores how their exquisite techniques have been reinvented for new generations in the hands of our most innovative contemporary glassmakers.


Above Image: Peter Layton, Harlequin


Elliot Walker, Incalmo Insolito, Hot-sculpted head with cane discuss hat.


Peter Layton, Burano pair


Bruce Marks, Carved Bird


In addition to showcasing remarkable new work from London Glassblowing founder, Peter Layton and his highly accomplished team, VETRO will highlight the work of internationally renowned glass artists, including Scott Benefield, Simon Moore, Edmond Byrne, Owen Johnson and Liam Reeves.  

Like Benefield, Liam Reeves explores pivotal techniques from glassblowing’s two millennia of rich history, skilfully blending ancient Roman and Renaissance Venetian techniques, such as filigrana a reticello, with the finesse of factory glass and the precision of digital media. His unique glass forms take inspiration from the past, yet are wholly contemporary.


Liam Reeves, Warp/Fade 006

Watch the video above to get a sense of Liam Reeves' extraordinary working practice. 


Scott Benefield is one of the world’s leading exponents of Venetian glassmaking methods, In Lattimo: Compositions he explores traditional cane techniques developed in Renaissance Venice five centuries ago. Rods of lattimo glass are arranged to form intricate patterns, employing the traditional murrine technique.

Scott Benefield, Lattimo


Layne Rowe has produced a stunning collection, titled Passarine, inventing entirely new ways of approaching cane work, over-layering different coloured canes around a form that is twisted, and, when cold, cut into to reveal vibrant colours beneath the surface. The viewer is invited to look once, then to want to look again, to get as close as possible to the pieces to understand the hidden secrets of their complex detail. 

Click on the video above to view a recent 'Neighbourhood Portrait' of Layne Rowe at work in the London Glassblowing Studio in the artistic hub of Bermondsey.


Intrigued by objects that have a resonance from the past, Edmond Byrne uses mould blown glass, an ancient technique dating from classical times. In place of the traditional wood or cast iron moulds, Byrne uses textile moulds, which are dipped in slip-clay to create the textured surface. After blowing the mould, Byrne then adds patina and cracks to the surface to recreate the weathering of ancient Roman glass. 

Edmond Byrne, Cylinder Landscape Group



Peter Layton, Red Jester, 2014 


London Glassblowing founder, Peter Layton, has created no fewer than 5 new series for the exhibition, and describes the working process as challening but thoroughly enjoyable:

"I enjoy working to a theme, and this title has provided great inspiration so that I have been able to explore a number of ideas at the same time.   This has involved very labour intensive and time consuming colour preparation processes, in order to achieve the complex patterns and visual effects that I desired.  With this in mind, I have returned to more functional forms such as vases and bowls for the Harlequin and Medusa Series.

Harlequin is my interpretation of the ancient Roman fusing and slumping technique used to make Mosaic Glass.  

Medusa, which is Italian for jellyfish, is achieved by suspending discs or pastilles of colour, sandwiched between gathers of glass.  

Burano is the name of a neighbouring island with a history of lacemaking.  This series is a play on traditional filigree work (reticello, latticino and zanfirico) to achieve graphic effects and Moire patterns within the mass of solid glass which forms part of the vessel.  

Jesters and Lollipops are playful, fun pieces made tongue in cheek and subtitled Humbugs and All Sorts.  In part they derive from my love of beach combing, which in this case has taken place in the studio – where I picked up off-cuts, themselves inspirational gems."


RCA PhD Student Owen Johnson appropriates existing decorative patterns and motifs, taking them through a process of material translation by employing stunning craft methods like the Murrini technique.  

Owen Johnson, Paisley Translation No 3 (Detail)


Carrying on the RCA theme, previous graduates Louis Thompson and Hanne Enemark have collaborated on a stunning body of work, utilising both opaque and clear glass, and pushing the boundaries of glass cane inclusions within blown forms.


Louis Thompson & Hanne Enemark, Panicum, Blown glass with white glass cane inclusions 

Louis Thompson & Hanne Enemark, Panicum (detail), 2014


Once design director at Salviati in Murano, Simon Moore’s work for VETRO will demonstrate Venetian cold work techniques, such as Battuto and Sabbiato, ‘so often the unsung hero of so much work’, says Moore. Three pieces from his ‘Façon de Venise’ series will also be exhibited.

A visit to VETRO at London Glassblowing this Autumn promises a rare glimpse into the past history of the remarkable art of studio glass through the work of some of the finest, state of the art glass artists of our times. 


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