A variety of coloured and textured clays are used to create distinctive coiled pots, which take their forms and surfaces from nature, with particular inspiration from beach stones and geological textures. Striations, marbling techniques and layering of slips create a dramatic effect, using red, green, blue, black and white clays. Surfaces are scraped and sanded before a single firing at earthenware temperatures. After firing pots receive further sanding prior to final polishing.
I am exploring ways of producing surfaces which are inspired by strata and stone.
strata - I mix and arrange a variety of smooth and textured coloured clays into blocks, which are then manipulated by a variety of means - folding, twisting, stretching, compressing, laminating, slicing etc. The pot is built by coiling with strips cut from this prepared block. Another method is to build with coils comprising strands of different clays which have been twisted in a variety of ways.
stone - Pots are coiled where surface textures/undulations are incorporated as a result of the building process. The surface of the pot is then built up with layers of coloured slips, which are scraped back when leather hard to reveal patterns.
In addition to the above work I am also producing a smaller amount smoke fired pots.
I use earthenware clays and generally single-fire at temperatures between 1000șC and 1150șC in an electric kiln.
None of my work is glazed. The finished surface is a result of sanding before and after firing using a combination of wet and dry paper and diamond abrasive pads, followed by polishing with wax.
Smoke-fired pots are coiled with a mixture of molochite and coloured clays. The surface is covered in slip and burnished before a biscuit firing at 950șC. The final smoke firing takes place in a mix of sawdust, wood chips and seaweed within an incinerator bin.
Ben grew up in York and started making pots at the age of 14, inspired by his pottery teacher at school. After taking a foundation course in Art and Design at York College, he went on to read Geography and Geology at Manchester University. This was followed by two postgraduate years at the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying cello with Derek Simpson and chamber music with the Amadeus Quartet. Since leaving the Academy in 1989, Ben has worked as a professional cellist and teacher. He returned to pottery in 1994, attending classes at Barry Guppys studio in Pimlico.
Ben lives in Hackney, East London with his partner and three children, and since 1997 has been building his pots in a shed at the bottom of the garden. He started exhibiting his pots in 2004.
1983 - 1984 York College of Art and Technology
Foundation course in Art and Design
1984 Royal College of Music
ARCM Performers Diploma
1984 - 1987 University of Manchester
BSC Hons in Geography and Geology
1987 - 1989 Royal Academy of Music
1994 -1997 Pimlico Pottery, Evening classes
2008 Ceramics in the City - Geffrye Museum
The Arc Gallery - Chester
Ceramic Art London - RCA
2007 Ceramics in the City - Geffrye Museum
Atticus Arts Gallery - Bath
2006 Ceramics in the City - Geffrye Museum
2005 Hidden Art open studios
Ceramics in the City - Geffrye Museum
Treehouse mixed exhibition - Kent
Islington Art and Design fair
Rivers Gallery - Gloucestershire
2004 Hidden Art open studios
40 pots, 40 years - Hackney, London
Colouring Clay by Jo Connell, A & C Black, 2007