form

Anatomy of a style 3: Surface simplicity

My first step on the meditation path coincided with my jump into ceramics. In the last year I have come to see that the two are connected. Both are part of my quest for authentic being and centred peace. That is why the form has to come from the shapes that interest me and why the surfaces have to have both simplicity and depth.

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My work is designed to be used so I believe it should complement and frame the contents, not make an attention-seeking attempt to upstage whatever you are using it for- whether that's a delicious meal or a collection of spare screws. I therefore opt for the simplicity of one colour glazing.

However, a pot should not be so simple it is dull and boring. It may be seen whilst sitting on a shelf waiting to be used and needs to earn it's place in a person's home. So I aim for designs that are interesting enough to enjoy empty and give pleasure while on display.

Like a piece of good music rather than a pop song, I look to ensure a pot has depth of character that will reward both long-term looking whilst on display and repeated use:

  • Each pot is part glazed and part unglazed, to emphasise the articulations of the form as you look at it from a distance.
  • Looking more closely you'll see that I seek out glazes with a subtle richness that reward close observation and make each piece quietly individual through tiny crystals or flashing or crackles or a pearskin texture etc.
  • The part glazing also unveils the texture of the clay to both eye and hand. The fingers are incredibly sensitive to the nuances of touch so I like to give them something to discover in unglazed and burnished clay, smooth surfaces and incised lines,

All of these elements I hope combine in my distinctive style to make viewing, holding and using the work a more satisfying experience. It is my way of offering you a moment of your own authenticity and centredness, of peace in a bonkers world.

Anatomy of a style: Form & profile

Functional ceramics has a very long history, and is of course designed to serve the human body which changes very little, so there are very strong conventions about what what you eat from when, what shape a bowl is, what size a plate is etc. I wanted to make serving-ware that people would actually use and and enjoy on a regular basis, but I also wanted to find my own designs that were personal and fresh.

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However there's a danger of becoming deeply obscure and annoyingly tricksy if you set out to invent something entirely new. My challenge has been to balance these aspects and incorporate just enough of each to satisfy.

A range of inspirations from modernist architecture via cast concrete and long-serving utilitarian design such as coal hods have fed into the collection. From these influences  I use clean lines, interesting form and an unfussy clarity of profile to create pots that have a quiet presence.

I am fascinated by the tension in the angle of a corner, the character produced by varying proportions and so my work has become an exploration of proportion and angular profiles. Each piece has grown out of these interests, to be interesting in it's own right and also to be complimentary to its fellows, so that when placed together there is a rich composition on the table of forms and angles and negative spaces.

Because my collection is designed collectively to incorporate a wider variety of forms and profiles it is more flexible in the way it can be combined to suit your particular taste. Now that we have been freed from the constrictions of the  matchy-matchy dinner service how do you combine pieces of different styles/ colours/ eras/ materials etc to build up a more personal collection?

Inspirations for some new creative work...

Since moving to Hastings I have loved exploring my new surroundings. Drinking it all in - and having a bit more space and time to think - has lead to some surprising developments. It has inspired me to start playing with some new creative ideas. I don't know where they will take me yet as it's very early days so far but it feels very rewarding to be able to focus on my art and inspirations and the early creative play that seems to be necessary before new finished pieces can be born.

I will share some of the processes I am exploring with you, and some of the results when we get that far...

For now, here's some views of the coast at nearby Pett which is inspiring the current developments. I have been looking particularly at organic forms, surfaces and the ways in which forms and voids relate.

Inspirational ceramics, pt 2

As part of an exercise for my business mentor I have been reviewing work that inspired me - and made me wish I had made it.

Here are some more that got shortlisted.

Sam Hall

Hall works with a very limited range of forms, but each work remains fascinating because of the visual richness of his scuffed, layered & timeworn surfaces. As a lover of decayed urban surfaces these work for me in much the same way.

Jane Perryman

Perryman's vessels have their roots in traditional forms but are often combined with more urban slab forms, echoing the ceremonial feel of Gatley's compositions. I love the emphasis on the clay itself, either raw or charred.

Gordon Baldwin

Baldwin's work is mainly monochromatic, but never boring. He has an unusual approach o mark making that is both graphic and subtle, and leaves me curious as to how on earth he achieved it. The abstract/organic vessels have intriguing forms that appear to arise from a personal symbolism. Many are asymmetric and relational in ways that get my whiskers twitching!