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House Visits: Spiritual Home

22 Apr 2020
A journey into history, culture and the pleasures of our own backyard with a committed member of the arts community.

The days of visiting galleries and exhibitions are temporarily on hold. The lost opportunity to get motivation from walking through new spaces and soaking in different works is a void The Big Idea wants to help fill. 

Our ‘House Visits’ series takes you into the homes and working spaces of people in the creative world, to see what they have collected on their travels, what it means to them and what they’re using as inspiration inside their own four walls.

Layla Walter - Auckland

I have always played a role in the creative sector, a glass artist since 1994, advocate for NZ craft and recently a rep for Aotearoa/NZ on the World Craft Council - Asia Pacific Region. This is a voluntary role where I am in regular contact with WCC Australia, mostly joining dots to connect people with opportunities for the promotion of artisans and their craft.

Increasingly I am writing more which is both challenging and satisfying, see ‘The Olympics of Craft’ in ArtNews NZ.

My primary focus is as a maker with my sole income from sales of glass. Without access to the studio, I cannot complete industrial work like kiln firing or tool work. However, I was able to bring home some materials and waxes - my primary medium for sculpting. Working alone, going inward and developing new art is a part of my job. Lockdown feels like an extension of the creative process and I'm thriving. The simplicity of staying in one place brought clarity in direction for my glasswork. 

The Tour Begins

This image was taken overlooking Moehau and Colville Bay, visiting my childhood home with my daughter in 2015. I grew up rurally surrounded by makers and come from a long line of artists on both sides of the Walter and Barraud families.

My father put carving tools in my hands as a kid, and my mother made a backstrap loom for me. Lockdown feels like going back to basics, although we live in Auckland City now, lush fruit trees and a garden nourish us.

This photo is my screen saver - images of loved ones or special places help keep one feeling well.

Home Inspiration

This rug is by kiwi Afghan Zia, designed here and made in Afghanistan. I have combined the scale and simplicity of leaves and blooms on the rug with my own drawings of dahlias, to produce drawings for carving plaster stamps, to impress patterns for new cast glassworks. 


Fabric of Humanity


Fabric of Humanity, cast glass by Layla Walter, H22 D30.5 cm March 2020.

Inspired by Kirk Hargreaves' portrait of our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, wearing hijab as she stood with members of the Muslim community in their loss. My glass vessel features folds of fabric and impressions of embroidery from Palestinian refugee Knooz Albadia from Jordan.

Made for the exhibition Ko rātou, ko tātou | On other-ness and us-ness - conversations with Islam, alongside and from inside, in commemoration of the 2019 Muslim attacks in Christchurch which were so wrong. My great grandmother was Muslim - I cherish this history and family connection to Northern Pakistan. The exhibition at NorthArt was not accessible due to COVID-19 lockdown but you can follow online at @northartnz or @layla_walter_glass


Gandhi's Prayer Mat with Self-Reflection

A family treasure from my great grandmother maulana Beatrice Gul (nee Cooke) and her second husband Maulvi Ozair Gul, a Muslim spiritual leader and politician who worked with Gandhi in India. As a Muslim after partition, Ozair was banished from politics and ordered to return to his home village.

This mat was used by Gandhi when he visited them in Pakistan, it is a reminder of family lineage across borders, with socialism and art at heart.



During lockdown, our galleries cannot open or send work, but they are available to commission works for artists to get on with. I urge people to consider buying handcrafted objects for gifts in the coming years. See @masterworksgallerynz @annamilesgallery @fhegalleries @fingersjewellery @thepoiroom @nzglassworks @avidgallerynz @thenationalnz @milfordgalleries on Instagram.