Elliot Walker

Wolverhampton School of Art / Student Case Studies / Elliot Walker

Elliot Walker studied MA Design and Applied Arts (now MA Design and Applied Arts - Glass) from 2011 – 2012. Since graduating, Elliot has worked at the London Glass Blowing Studio and developed a successful practice as a glass artist, exhibiting with a number of galleries in the UK and America. He is also the winner of the second season of the Netflix series, Blown Away. We caught up with Elliot to discuss what he is up to now, his favourite aspect of the course and his advice to current students.

Elliot Walker MA Design and Applied Arts (Glass) graduate, Wolverhampton School of Art, University of Wolverhampton

I started my career as an artist while studying for a psychology Degree in 2007, where I had the unusual and disruptive hobby of creating stained glass windows. I had a short path in my room at the most chaotic point, that lead from the door to the bed, leading through my grinding and cutting station and past stacks of sheet glass and shards. I don't think my house mates knew what to make of it all... 

Once I completed my psychology degree, I decided to dedicate myself to this vocation and begin training in all aspects of Glass making and design at Dudley Collage in the West Midlands. I later graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Wolverhampton. During this degree I also worked at the Red House Glass Cone, in the heart of the historic glass making area of the UK. The inspirations of my work are varied and wide-ranging, but come mostly from classical sculpture and painting. I am a dedicated experimenter with my chosen material and constantly try to challenge myself and the audiences of my work to abandon many preconceptions of the material. My sculptural style would be considered figurative as I do attempt to accurately represent my subject of interest, but my use of glass as a material is always at the heart of my conceptual focus and creates an ambiguity or surrealism in the works.

I feel I have developed very well in my career in the 9 years since my graduation. I began working at the London Glass Blowing studio, under the expert guidance of Peter Layton and his amazing team, the year after leaving university. Working and having the opportunity to exhibit in the gallery, pushed my development like nothing else could have and I feel very lucky to have been a part of the team for 8 years. I have very recently opened my own studio on the outskirts of London to pursue my own sculpture and also take on larger commissions for a number of design companies and artists. I work there with my assistant and partner Bethany Wood and alongside another glassblowing team with whom we share the space. I exhibit with a number of galleries in the UK and America and am currently working up to a show with Messum’s Gallery, opening January 26th.

 Elliot Walker MA Design and Applied Arts (Glass) graduate, Wolverhampton School of Art, University of Wolverhampton

Images of Elliot’s recent work, photographed by Simon Bruntnell © SIMON BRUNTNELL PHOTOGRAPHY

The Facilities at the University are some of the best in the country especially for glass blowing. This was the main reason for my decision to study in Wolverhampton. moving into an MA degree without any formal artistic education since leaving school was challenging but I really enjoyed the self-direction you are encouraged to develop, and this has been a very important skill to develop professionally in the Arts. I think my favourite memory of the course would also one of the most painful. Having made my most ambitious piece of blown glass a couple of days previously, there I am bright and early ready to open up the kiln and see what I had made. 'Patience, patience' I was sagely advised by the studio technician, but I had to look, and so cracking the kiln door to peak in and to, in my head, speed the cooling of the piece to room temperature, I also cracked the piece. . .  Patience in all aspects of glass making is a difficult and important lesson to learn.

Advice is very hard to give in a general sense, but I can be very specific about the master’s course as I experienced it. I think the most important thing to consider is can I develop through the degree. to develop I feel you need to already have a strong sense of yourself and your abilities. A Master’s degree in something like glass making / Applied arts isn't as much being taught a skill, or at least it wasn't for me, it's about developing yourself and self-directed learning, pushing your abilities and designs with the opportunity to have external critique and guidance. These latter points are invaluable and something that is very hard to find when you leave education.

I had a great experience at the University. Having grown up around Wolverhampton its charms can seem elusive, but they are there trust me. Most importantly it was the right course for me at exactly the right time.