Karen Downing

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Credit: Ben Boswell

Credit: Ben Boswell

At the heart of Karen Downing’s hand thrown porcelain is the coastal landscape of her childhood home. On the wide white New Jersey beaches there is a feeling of time made physical; of a slow but steady process of transformation. The landscape is sparse, always changing yet ever the same. There is a perpetual, but often imperceptible, movement and variation in the configuration of the sand, the colour of the sky and in the trace of the tide line.

It is this idea of a slow but continuous change over time that Karen explores in her ceramics. The use of one material, a single glaze, a deliberately restricted vocabulary of form and the process of repetition throwing combine to create both unity and diversity in her work. These limited elements allow for a multitude of subtle variations that slowly evolve and are quietly, but constantly, refined and distilled. Although ‘repeats’ are thrown, the nature of porcelain, and of the throwing and firing processes, means that no two pots are ever exactly the same. Subtle variations in size, form and glaze finish are inevitable and give each pot its own particular nuance and character.

Karen Downing was born in New Jersey, USA. She gained a BA from Georgetown University, Washington DC, served apprenticeships with 2 different potters and worked as a studio assistant at Penland School of Crafts, North Carolina before settling in the UK. Her work has been shown widely in the UK as well as in the USA, Europe and Japan and is held in many private collections. She now lives and works in the Brecklands of Norfolk.