I have always had a fascination with texture, sculpture, ceramics and works in three dimensions. I trained in all aspects of the arts, specialising in ceramics for a number of years and, in particular, porcelain, producing vessels and wall installations.
This material is deemed the jewel of the clay world and is challenging in many ways. Careful consideration needs to be given to the design of the form. Certain shapes are almost impossible to create unless supported when firing. If supported other compromises need to be made, like leaving the surface unglazed.
Because of the fine qualities of the clay, it is also very difficult to create large pieces. Tanya Gomez’s large thrown works are a testament to her skills and confidence in this material. Also unusual to see is her bright glaze colour palette, as colour can burn out at high temperatures in the kiln. However, using the white qualities of this clay as a backdrop enables the colours to sing.
Whereas ceramicists such are Karen Downing prefers the material to speak for themselves, with pure delicate repeating forms and a simple translucent glaze to enhance the already very beautiful clay. Karen is working with the notion of the cycle of life. She is concerned with small and subtle changes over time. Her work has a rhythm, flowing from one form to another. There is mediation at play, not only in the execution but visually too.
Carys Davies is also working with the purity of form, relying on the white clay as her backdrop. Cary’s experiments with glazes in a tonal and textual way elevate her forms to another level. Porcelain has a memory, so will revert back to the form/shape it has been originally created. Therefore dents and knocks in the clay through the making will resurface when fired. It can be a liken to linen. Linen creases and it is the accepted nature of the material.
Porcelain also warps, as you can see in Cary’s and Maria ten Kortenaar’s vessels and Karen’s circular forms that they are not truly round. This is one of the most beautiful qualities of porcelain, that the imperfections are celebrated. This is also evident in Sally Garrett’s ballet shoes, the clays folds and meets and mimics the silk fabric that she is conveying.
Sally’s shoes start life as adult size ballet shoes and end, after her firings, into child size. The shoes represent that longing to take part in ballet classes, the elegant dance most young girls dream of doing. I had wanted to be a dancer when I was younger, and I too had wanted to have ballet classes.
Interestedly, Sally child-like shoes could also reflect her desires and her childhood memories. Due to the high shrinkage rate of porcelain when fired, she has expressed her passion for ballet as an adult, yet made references to her childhood.
Su Jameson’s Sticks and Stones body of work treats porcelain in a more sculptural fashion. Using the vessel form as a starting point, it moves away from this notion when she cuts and pierces the forms. Her intention is to depict human fragility, emotion and longing.
I hope this show will give you a deeper understanding of the ceramicists’ world and the unique qualities of porcelain; strong yet delicate and translucent, fine, and white enough for colours to be bright and fully shine.
I believe that pieces produced in porcelain are truly objects of desire. And this inspired me to curate this show of ceramicists who all work with this medium, but with very different approaches.
The exhibition continues until 27th May and is open daily 11am to 6pm