“Come visit us, we blow every day,” whispered the charming, dapper artist and gallery owner, Peter Layton. How could I resist an offer like that? And so I was introduced to what has become one of my favourite London haunts. London Glassblowing on Bermondsey Street, not far from London Bridge. Who would have thought that in one of the busiest parts of this busy, busy city is a studio where beautiful, delicate things are made in much the same way they have for hundreds of years. With strength, fire, imagination and a whole lot of patience a burning liquid metamorphasises into something extraordinary. The process is mesmerizing to watch, for children and adults alike. And the artists, men and women, are always willing to explain, describe and show off their talent. It is like seeing alchemists at work. The furnaces burn hot, hot and time just slips away.
I have spent many a happy hour just sitting and watching the magic happen.
The gallery, in front of the studio, winks at you from the street, especially later in the day. Full of shining, twinkling, fragile bits of beauty. Gallery assistants, Rushka and James greet visitors with enthusiasm. The atmosphere is simultaneously calm and charged with creativity. There is an otherworldly quality to it all. Which makes leaving and returning to the outside hustle and bustle a bit of a shock.