Barry Guppy (1937 – 2013)
Although I didn’t know Barry particularly well – we first met as a result of Studiopottery.co.uk about 10 years ago, I found him a delightful and thought provoking individual with a great sense of fun and some remarkable stories from his past. I am greatly saddened by his death and my thoughts are with his family and friends.
I have taken the following words from his website:
“Barry Guppy was born in St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands. He studied at Camberwell School of Art, working with Dame Lucie Rie and particularly Hans Coper who encouraged him to explore radical new ceramic techniques.
His earliest work was highly dynamic, wire cutting undulating surfaces and then hurling the individual pieces from a height onto wet sand moulds forming large wall reliefs. The geometric acoustic tiles produced in the 1960s are an early demonstration of his fascination with pattern, the ambiguity between form and decoration and how movement arises from changes in perspective or light.
In the early 1970′s Guppy was making a stand against the nostalgic rustic view of the potter. At a time when the Royal College of Art was beginning to talk about ceramists interacting with industry, Guppy was already working with architects and large modernist retailers.
As the pottery grew into a lively studio and a meeting point for artists from various disciplines, Guppy moved away from large scale production and began inventing a series of his own glaze and slip techniques. The inspiration for these experiments lay in his early experiences working with antiques when he had admired the work of oriental artists and their understanding of a line and its relationship with empty space From this he developed a technique of on-glaze spinning first on tiles then extended to wheel-thrown forms.
Later and quite radically he started to spin the artificially liquid but structural clay itself; calling this new process slip drawing & spinning or ‘glipping’. He spun thin threads of this special fibreslip into moulds making bowls, dishes and organic shapes whose structure became their decoration – frozen in movement. Highly recognisable, Guppy’s individual style is apparent in all his work and is ever changing. Like an alchemist he plays with form, texture and colour, the movement of his creative spirit has provided many surprises and much enjoyment for those lucky enough to have pieces of his work.”
Internationally known his work is in some major public and private collections around the world.
He will be much missed by all who knew him.
Below Andy McInnes has let me use his photos from the 2010 Hatfield Art in Clay show, when Barry was the recipient of the Studiopottery Award for excellence -