Work generally available from:
Armstrong's Gallery, Pomona, Los Angeles.
Brook Street Pottery, Hay on Wye.
Contemporary Ceramics, Great Russell Street, London
Church House Designs, Congresbury,Somerset.
Cube Gallery in Bristol and Marylebone London
In case of difficulty contact me direct, as above contact details.
Available for lecturers , demonstrations on a limited basis.
Porthminster Gallery : A Considered Space with ceramics
October 25, 2014 to November 22, 2014
I have always wanted to draw people into my own miniature world evoking an ambivalent response about it's reason for being, it's small scale or my exact source of reference for it's creation. Working on such a small scale I have needed to make the images very intense and with enough energy to fascinate and intrigue, giving the pieces a life of their own avoiding the sweet, the twee, or the cliché that so easily takes over miniature "ceramics".
Childhood experiences may account for my obsession for small objects. I was brought up in a small end of terrace house with parents, grandparents and uncle. I slept in a baby's cot in my parent's room until I was seven. When my uncle left home I transferred to his box room measuring five feet by six feet. This was my only personal space until I left home aged twenty-two.
I was an only child an although I had many friends I spent much time in my own micro world of Cowboys & Indians, Knights in armour, Dinky toys and train sets. I particularly liked to lay on the floor with a train set and enter a miniature theatre of imaginary events and scenes. In later childhood I became a dedicated plastic kit modeller. Realising that it was the painted surface effects that interested me most I started to paint pictures in oil paint of imaginary landscapes and buildings, creating another world for my mind to inhabit.
Later, in Art School, pottery was a secondary interest to my painting until I discovered the work of Lucie Rie and Ruth Duckworth. I realised that pottery was much more interesting when it was small, delicate and with an element of fantasy, which I found lacking in the average teapot or casserole dish of the time. Discovering their work coincided with a passionate desire to collect seashells and I began to make my first miniature vessels inspired by nature.
Although political and cultural statements have become fashionable with visual artists I do not make work with a conscious message, preferring to deal with the "abstract" qualities of Art. My work is a kind of therapeutic antithesis to the difficulties and pain I have suffered, creating beauty rather than offering access to the tragic aspects of my life. The "Human Condition" is much more suitably expressed through the media of films, T.V. and music.
Current visual sources of inspiration include illustration of marine creatures and science fiction hardware, fossils, tin plate toys and various eroded objects. By extracting essential elements from these sources and reflecting them in my own imagery I hope to create a vessel with an ambiguous mysterious "presence". The structure is accurately engineered on the Potters Wheel and then softened by coloured glazes to make the finished object appear to be a synthesis of mechanical and organic qualities like a man-made object being eroded by time and taken back by nature.
Because the source material on which they are based is so varied they evoke a variety of responses from other people. Some find they are like seashells or other beach combings, others think that they may have just landed from outer space or look like indeterminate body parts. It suits me that different people find different identities for the pots. The comment that I like to hear most however, is that although the forms are obviously static they appear to be moving or about to move like an animated creature.
Source material and my objectives have not changed much over the years. After studying art for ten years I quickly "found my voice" and matured as an artist. Work has consequently progressed and developed as a result of changes in process and material. Having absorbed source material thoroughly it appears in the pieces without much conscious effort to study it anymore and often one piece is the source of inspiration for the next.
All work is fired to Orton cone 8 (1260°C.) oxidised feldspa the glazes layered with oxides.
Porcelain - The images and forms I work with require the fine texture and whiteness available with porcelain bodies. The body needs to be high-fired to give physical strength to the very light weight, thinly walled structure of each piece. The lightness of the form creates a feeling of delicacy and preciousness similar to a seashell. Translucency in also produced, but this is irrelevant because most forms have openings too narrow to allow visual access to the interior.
The whiteness of porcelain gives a good ground for the application of glazes without affecting the colours unlike a normal stoneware body. The porcelain body is smooth and characterless allowing me to control or impose my own texture upon it.
Throwing and Turning - The pots are made on the potter's wheel with a thick section - to be turned when leather hard with very sharp steel tools. Because porcelain is such a poor body to work with - it is necessary to make a thicker pot than would be made in Stoneware body. This initial thrown thickness helps to support the extreme shapes I use and to allow instant removal from the wheel.
When the pot has been turned completely and the correct thickness achieved, I apply water with a large soft mop brush to soak and soften the whole form, especially the mouth, so that I can effect my typical distortion of the opening. Pots intended for lustre or sponged Vanadium Oxide treatments are left to dry at this point.
Other pieces are textured by attacking the softened surface with various sharp tools; a model makers pointed wire brush being the most commonly used. Some pots have a variety of radial lines incised into the surface at this "leather hard" stage. All are left to dry slowly in a controlled atmosphere for two or three days before Biscuit firing.
Biscuit and Glost Firing - Biscuit firing temperature is about 1000°C. After firing I squirt glaze into the interior with a slip trailer - put the pot back into the kiln and fire to 100°C to dry out the surface of the pot which has been saturated by the interior glazing and so would not soak up the application of the exterior glaze.
This interior glazing is a lot of work for something that won't be seen and the observer could not be aware of. However, it is extremely important to enclose the walls of the pot with a sandwich of interior and exterior glaze - glazing on one side only would course ‘Dunting' (cracking on cooling) because of the unequal tensions created when the pot is cooling after the Glost firing. Glost firing temperature is Orton Cone 8 (1260°C) oxidised.
Glazing - I use a number of glazes often laying one over another or over various oxides:
The pots with physical texture have Vanadium oxide rubbed into the surface followed by sprays of Rutile, Chrome or Copper Oxide followed by the glaze.
The smooth surface pots are given their particular surface quality by thickly sponging on Vanadium Oxide, and then spraying glaze and either Rutile or Chrome Oxide.
The Vanadium Oxide interrupts the flow of the glaze as it fluxes at high temperature making the glaze and colours variegate and form a physical, as well as the visual, texture.
Lustre - Lustre comes from the manufacturer in small bottles ready prepared for use. It is normally fired on at approximately 750°c in an oxidising atmosphere.
The lustre is painted on to the fired glazed surface. After firing this would normally produce a lustrous iridescence colour surface. However I interfere with this effect by dropping spots of detergent, paraffin or cellulose thinners onto the lustre whilst it is still wet to break the surface tension, causing a streaky quality. I usually marble together two or three different colours.
Post Firing - On some pots some areas of glaze, especially shinny glaze, are rubbed over with the abrasive paper to matt the surface and enhance the colour qualities of the glaze.
The last operation is cleaning off dirt produced by grinding the surface with the silicone carbide paper, or residue from the lustre firing. This is done with cellulose thinners and "Groom" - a commercial product for cleaning carpets. Pots that have had their surface ground will be warmed up and a thin layer of wax polish applied.
1960 - 1967 - Studied at Stoke-on-Trent College
1967 - 1970 - Royal College of Art.
1970 - 1975 - Lecturer at York School of Art
1975 - 2003 - Lecturer at Cardiff School of Art, University of Wales.
1972 - Contemporary Applied Arts, London - formally British Craft Centre.
1974 - Oxford Gallery, Oxford.
1974 - Midland Group Gallery
1974 - Sutton College, Surrey
1978 - National Museum of Wales
1979 - Oxford Gallery, Oxford.
1980 - Graham Gallery, New York
1985 - Graham Gallery, New York
1988 - Aberystwyth Arts Centre
1997 - European Ceramics, Yorkshire
1999 - Graham Gallery, New York.
2002 - Newport City Museum & Art Gallery
2003 - JG Contemporary (James Graham and Sons) New York
2006 - James Graham & Sons, New York
2013 - Oxford Ceramics Gallery, Oxford
Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Museum and Art Galleries in :
Leicester, Swindon, Birmingham, Reading, Bradford, Newport Gwent, Portsmouth, Stoke-on-Trent and Nottingham.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Holburne Museum, Bath.
Royal Ulster Museum, Belfast.
Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh.
Castle Museum, Norwich.
Abbot Hall, Museum, Kendal.
National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.
University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Welsh Arts Council.
Crafts Council, London.
Yorkshire Education Authority.
Boyman-van Beunigen, Rotterdam.
Art and History Museum, Brussels.
Princessenhof Museum, Leeuwarden, Holland.
Museum of Applied Arts, Sydney, Australia.
National Gallery of Victoria, Australia.
Perth Museum, Australia.
Museum of Hannover, Germany.
Keramion Ceramics Museum Germany.
Landes Museum of Decorative Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Bellerive Museum, Switzerland.
County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, U.S.A.
Institute of Art, Chicago, U.S.A.
The Mint Museum of Craft & Design, North Carolina. USA.
Taipei County, Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taiwan.
Arizona State University, Art Museum, U.S.A.
The American Museum of Ceramic Art, California. USA
Arkansas Art Centre, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
David Owsley Museum of Art, Ball Street University, Indiana. USA
M.O.M.A New York City.USA
My work has been included in many International publications since 1970 recently Ceramic Review number 186.
2003 - Contemporary Studio Porcelain. By Peter Lane. A & C Black
2004 - Porcelain and Bone China. By Sasha Wardell, Crowood Press Ltd
2004 - The Teapot Book. Steve Woodhead, A & C Black Ltd, London
2005 - Ceramics technical, number 20, Australia.
2006 - 500 Pitchers, Lark Books, New York, USA
2007 - 20th Century British Studio Pottery, Jeffrey Jones, A & C Black, London