Saturday 27 August 2022

Potfest 2022 - Ceramic Sculpture

Potfest 2022, Compton Verney.

We visited Potfest twice this year. Now that we are members of Compton Verney entry was free, with no need to book an allotted slot time. We had planned to go on the Saturday, and we did go indeed, but it was raining, so it was a bit miserable - the tents did provide protection, but one has to handle ceramics, and with holding an umbrella it's a bit difficult. Anyway, we really enjoyed it, as the exhibits were terrific, but, on Sunday, after our two visits to Warwickshire Open Studios we had time, and the weather on Sunday was glorious, so we gave it another go. The second visit was very relaxed and it gave us a chance to look at favourites again, and to chat to some of the artists.

Christy Keeney:

Christy Keeney is one of my favourite ceramicists and I have published quite a few posts about him, too many for me to list, but if you use the search facility on the right of this page, you will be able to see more of his work, especially given that the work he brought to Potfest is not as varied as his oeuvre generally is. I presume he brought pieces that sell at fairs, pieces that are easy to carry home.

I was very pleased that he was exhibiting at Potfest as I had never met him. I had quite a long chat with him and expressed my disappointment that he had not brought any of his abstract pieces to Compton Verney. He said that the initial response to his abstract work was not very encouraging, so he stopped making them. I tried to convince him that he should persevere, and I was very pleased when in an email he sent me later that week he said that my comments had encouraged him and he was going to start making some more abstract work. I look forward to seeing it, as I thought it was very interesting. 

Sharon Griffin:

Griffin is a figurative artist who specialises in ceramic sculpture and fine art painting, directly inspired by the woodland where she often explores places in which to 'breathe'. 'I wish to evoke 'feeling' and mirror 'gesture' through the use of fast marks, quick making techniques and 'sketches'. My work sometimes has an unfinished quality which adds to the idea that the figure is a suggestion of a living being rather than a still ornamental object. It is important to me that my figures have an identity and are able to connect with an audience in a non-physical sense'.

Peter Hayes:

Again, I have posted a lot of Peter Hayes work, so if you want to use the search facility, you will be able to see more.

I had a chat with Peter Hayes as well. I knew that he submerges some of his sculptures in the river or the sea, and leaves them in the water for a long time, sometimes up to 10 years. He confirmed this, and talked about how he started doing this for fun, partly due to his interest in archaeology, and that as he was pleased with the results, how the patina of the pieces changed, he made it part of his practice. He talked about this for a long time, with real enthusiasm and pleasure.

This is an example of his latest work, and he was extremely pleased that I recognised this and pointed it out. Here, you can see evidence of his interest in archaeology.

Alison Coaten:

Coaten hand builds in stoneware, coiling and sculpting, and uses a limited palette of matt white crackle glaze, gold lustre and occasionally ceramic decals reproduced from her drawings. Each piece has several layers of slip and glaze with areas left bare, creating pits and surface texture. Indian ink is then used to define the crackle. Her recent work includes the use of glass eyes, blown or hand painted, often intended for taxidermy.

Jemma Gowland:

In her work with white grogged stoneware and Athena porcelain pape rclay, Gowland explores the way that girls are constrained from birth to conform to an appearance and code of behaviour to present a perfect face and maintain the expectations of others. The disrupted surfaces describe the vulnerability beneath.

Sally MacDonell:

Artist's statement: 'I model each piece spontaneously pinching and squeezing slabs to form the female body. Leaving the joints revealed as evidence of the process and to hold elements of colour in the glazing. My building technique involves pushing out from the inside to give the figure a twist of the waist or a tilt of the shoulder; expressing a familiar transient moment. My aim is to connect with the viewer - to prompt a feeling of common humanity.

Having smoke fired for 12 years, I now work with colour. I love colour. I have developed a finish using underglaze colours mixed with engobe and fired at 1196oC. I'm drawn to the colours found in ancient Greek terracottas from the 2nd century BC and Medieval Netherlandic wood carvings. Surfaces that show experience, having been eroded and fragmented. When I apply the glaze it's very much like painting. It's a very spontaneous process which fits with the way I hand build'.


Wednesday 24 August 2022

Potfest 2022 - ceramics

Potfest 2022 - ceramics

There was so much to see at this year's Potfest that I am posting what I particularly liked in two posts, this one and one on sculpture.

Claire Conrad:

Artist's statement: 'In my work I try to capture the poignant beauty and drama of weathering and corrosion - the point of balance between existence and decay. I find the vessel form the most satisfying to use and I enjoy the traditional method of wheel-throwing, which adds to the sense of capturing time. I like the simplicity and elegance of form achievable with throwing-ribs to eliminate finger ridges. I use 'T' material: strong, high-quality, coarse clay, that I mix with a smooth white stoneware to make it throwable. Forms are thrown slowly and meticulously to give thin-walled, yet strong subtly rugged, finely balanced pieces. Large forms are thrown in several sections, with much refining, when leather hard, similar to a hand-built, coiled pot'.

Mark Dally:

Craig Underhill:

Sara Moorhouse:

Sara Moorhouse's pieces are hand thrown and turned, the movement of the wheel often reflected in the slight asymmetry of the form. The lines are applied by returning the bisque fired bowl to the wheel and painted with ceramic colour by hand. A matt glaze is then applied to stabilise and enhance the coloured surface.

Moorhouse explains how she 'found that colours behave differently when viewed across three-dimensional space than a two-dimensional surface, particularly on the inner bowl form where illusions can appear much stronger'.

Justine Allison:

John Scott:

Robyn Hardyman:

Sue Mundy:

Katie Braida:


Rachel Wood:

Barbara Gittings:

Barbara Gittings is a new potter for me, and I love her work. I had a long chat with her about the way she makes her pots: she uses the nerikomi technique, which sounds very complicated to me, but the results are fabulous.

Her statement on her website: 'During my earlier career in the fashion industry as a designer and pattern cutter, I began to explore clay as an alternative medium to fabric. In fashion, the layering of textiles and the power of the cut merge to find new balances and forms, the biomorphic and geometric held in tension. My work in clay continues to explore this. I'm fascinated by the geometry in nature, especially as growth and random chaotic forces skew and distort the initial perfect symmetry, leading to biomorphic and irregular forms.

My ceramics explore the multi-layered effects nature creates via the laying down of strata, weathering and erosion. I endeavour to catch echoes of all of this in my work whilst trying to embrace chance, the accidental, and, as Henri Bergon said, the unforeseeable novelty'.

This pot broke, so she used the kintsugi method to repair it. 'A small part of my work reflects my fascination with Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken or damaged pottery by mending with urushi lacquer which is then usually dusted with gold, silver or platinum. Urushi is a sticky resin harvested from urushi trees in Japan, it is also used to make traditional lacquerware.

One theory as to its origins is that in the late 15th century Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa sent his favourite damaged tea bowl back to China for repair. When it was returned, repaired with ugly metal staples, he charged his craftsmen with the task of finding a more aesthetically pleasing method of repair.

Kintsugi embraces the philosophy of wabi-sabi, finding beauty in the flawed or imperfect. It treats breakage and repair as part of the history of the piece, rather than something to be disguised. It's seen as enhancing the piece, rather than something to be disguised. It's seen as enhancing the beauty of the piece, whilst reminding us of the transience of our lives.

I choose to use other metals, such as copper, bronze or aluminium, or powdered pearl, occasionally leaving the urushi naked, depending on the piece.... I invite you to embrace the idea of beauty in imperfection and the fact that the work's fragility is emphasised and celebrated'.

Chris Hawkins:

Ania Perkowska:

Nicholas Marsh:

Jin Eui Kim:

looking closer