Friday, 20 May 2016

Q&A: Sophie Layton

The daughter of glassblowing legend Peter Layton, Sophie Layton, is hosting a major solo show of her printmaking works at the Eames Gallery in Bermondsey St next week until June 12. We got the chance to chat to her about her show...

When did you first do anything find you had artisit flare?
I first started drawing as a toddler, before I could talk, but my parents have always told me that I appeared to have an understanding of colour from a very young age. But in terms of doing something arty as an adult – it was when I sold my entire degree show that gave me the encouragement to pursue a career as an artist.

In 2006, whilst on my foundation year at Camberwell School of Art I discovered the print workshop and fell in love with printmaking pretty much immediately. I then spent three wonderful years in the Print Department at Brighton University, immersing myself in the process of expressing my ideas of creating interior spaces, and light, through mono printing. My final degree show attracted a lot of positive comment and several sales, which was a lovely surprise; it is encouraging when your work is appreciated.

In 2012 I was awarded a scholarship for a residency at Scuola di Graphic in Venice. Working in that amazing location with its extraordinary light was very inspiring. The gallery with whom I have worked since graduating, Eames Fine Art, part funded this residency, hosted my first solo show in 2013 and are hosting my second in 2016.

How much of an influence was your dad and how involved/encouraging was he in your artistic development?
Again, it has to do with my use of colour - my Dad's studio is well known for its strong use of colour and this must have had an influence on me and how I now use colour in my own work. Both my parents have been very encouraging. I have two brothers and all three of us work in the arts. My older brother Bart is a film writer & director and Ben, who is younger than me, is working in television.

Growing up, my dad was a tough critic about my work as he always wanted me to do better. I now have Tim to critique my work I think he may have an even harsher eye. He's very quick to spot areas of my work which need developing and re-working. That's one of the reasons we make a good team.

Sum up your exhibition and what you are trying to achieve?
I feel really excited and proud of this show; I've been working towards this exhibition for the past two years. I would say there are two halves to the exhibition; work based on the experience of a research trip I made to Japan last summer. Osaka Shopping and Osaka Night Life depict photos I took whilst traveling and exploring the country. The other half of the show is made up of work of a more domestic nature.

I have based works such as Visiting Edith and Amongst the Party Streamers on found photographs of my family taken in the 1970's and 80's, and I have attempted to include retro colours of that time into my prints to give them a feel of the past.

Drawing with photographic imagery and collaging opposing types of mark making to create balance and harmony within an artwork built on contrasting imagery has been an exciting challenge this new work deals with.

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Which female artists do you admire?

I have always loved work by Paula Rego and although I am not directly aware of it, my new work based on family photographs, may be influenced by her work.

Have you got any tips for people looking to pursue a career in art?
Like many self employed people starting their own business - be prepared to work very hard, sometimes seven days a week. And don't expect financial security. Surround yourself with creatives on a similar path to you.

Your boyfriend is an acclaimed glassblower. Have you ever tried your hand at glassblowing and were you any good?
A few years ago I tried making glass for about 6 months, it's so technical and you need an enormous amount of passion and commitment. I think, because I grew up around it, it doesn't give me the excitement needed for the dedication required. Not that I don't appreciate blown and sculpted glass. It's just that I have endless fascination for working in the print studio using the etching and lithography press.

What do you do to relax? Is there ever a time when art doesn't cross your mind?
I go running and really enjoy listening to podcasts. I particularly love listening to the stand up comic, Marc Maron WTF. He is a very skilled interviewer who speaks with a lot of actors, musicians and comedians. I like hearing successful creatives talk about their childhoods, struggle with their career and outlook on life. It's always reassuring and inspiring to hear other people's stories.

I also love cooking, and having friends over. In some ways cooking feels a bit like printmaking in that it's done standing up at a work surface and there are processes and steps needed to be taken to achieve the end result. A bit like creating a print – with a lot of trial and error along the way!

For information on Sophie's show visit www.eamesfineart.com



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