This is a New Zealand show. Layla Walter’s interest in native flora, fauna and customary weaving practices of Maori has informed her practice from her early years. Glass is her medium. It’s not easy to interpret such themes through lost wax casting, but Walter has been working in glass casting for over twenty years. This exhibition reveals the outcome of a skilled and informed practice.
Glass is a bold medium, where colours glow and shapes are crisp; the material enhances the play of shadows through and around each work. The apparent simplicity Walter conveys through each vessel belies the complexity and unforgiving nature of the ten stage process of lost wax casting where negative renderings emerge into the final positive form.
Growing up in a creative world within the Coromandel, Walter learnt easily through her hands. Learning from local artists and craftspeople, and then immersing herself in the Diploma of Applied Arts followed by Bachelor in Design, Unitec (under Elizabeth McClure) brought her into contact with the ancient lost wax process. International glass artist Ann Robinson guided her too.
This show considers Walter’s practice through 21 years of design, although all works were cast in 2015. Themes of native birds, plants and flax weaving, gently guide the viewer through that passage of time. Kokako vessel designed in 2008 is a beguiling work. It was inspired by visits to Tiritiri Matangi, the wild life sanctuary. The shadowy form of the Kokako bird glows through the quiet tones of the blue-grey glass, the line of the bird echoed through the shape of the vessel.
The woven rimmed bowls, first designed in 1994, draw on Walter’s interest in customary Maori weaving practices, learnt as a child in the weaving house at Otatara Trust, Hawkes Bay. Refined through the guidance of Kahu Te Kanawa, Walter draws on the niho taniwha pattern used in taniko weaving and tukutuku panels. The saw-edged pattern, symbolising the teeth of the taniwha, is clearly articulated. Cross –cultural discussions emerge within her practice that considers how national identities play out within design and craft.
Layla Walter works within the environment of New Zealand; she is a glass artist first and foremost.
Curator of Decorative art and design
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa