Adele Howitt

01 Aug 2006

Attempting to define boundaries within the art of Adele Howitt is rather like tracing waves with handfuls of salt - absorbing, but ultimately futile. Adele has always chosen to practice an art that is defined by the working context: it is an inclusive and an empowering art.

Having consistently journeying with the contemporary throughout her formative years in London, the artist developed her own practice through her commitment to, and belief in, the value of public art.

Remaining in the Capital to work on a succession of projects, Adele sought to further develop a research-driven practice through her contact with people. Concurrently running her own ceramic studio at the time, provided the artist with regular opportunity to access, absorb and utilize the constant flow of available narrative into her favoured ceramic forms.

Flowing between 'public' and 'personal', between developing traditional ceramic methods and remaining true to a contemporary view of public design, Adele continued a practice in which her developing ÔexhibitionĠ work reflected her exposure to the demands and frameworks of her research-driven public work.

Now based in The East Riding of Yorkshire, England UK, craft skills remain central to the artist's practice. Using traditional materials and techniques for the majority of her public works - slip casting, ceramic transfer, concrete and tiles - Adele considers current issues, context and site specific information in her research-driven collaborations. Executing her briefs with a purpose that recognises the importance of the wider view of society is the artist's over-riding consideration in creating her works.

Typically, the forms of her new 'Urban Goddess' series, to be exhibited at this year's prestigious 'The Art Of Clay' exhibition, represent a recurring theme in her work over more recent years. These touchstones, from her practice in London, originally exhibited at the Chelsea Flower Show 2000 as two 1.3m. Goddesses - concrete forms decorated with curved ceramic tiles - are being re-worked to reflect the artist's expertise with glaze technology and the simplification of sculptural form. These new forms acknowledge and redefine the artist's considered reflections on the issues of identity and environment. Placed firmly within an urban context, these new forms exhibit a revitalised certainty of purpose that stems from the artist's desire to present work that invites a public inclusion.

Of her recent collaborations, Adele's involvement with the industrial ceramics company - Ideal Standard Bathrooms - to produce a large series of cast ceramic and resin forms for the client, has set a new bench mark for local public art projects. Linking industrial processes to the production of a public art through the research patterns of a collaborative approach has emerged as one of the key contemporary targets within the artist's current practice.

This then is the nub of Adele Howitt's art: Intertwining narrative with form, context with method, the artist marks and celebrates human experiences - both public and personal - made solid in clay.

John Hetherington

Example of work by Adele Howitt: