View Image Gallery Alex McErlain(Full member)Email:
Alex McErlain (1950-) was born in Chorley, Lancashire. He is a potter who has spent most of his career lecturing on the subject of ceramics at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Originally taught pottery by Derek Emms at Stoke-on-Tent College of Art, he went to work for three years at Winchcombe Pottery under the guidance of Ray Finch. In 1976 he was appointed as a lecturer at Manchester Polytechnic, eventually retiring from education after 35 years. He continued to maintain a studio throughout his career specialising for the most part in saltglazed stoneware, later he began exploring wood fired earthenware in association with the potter Doug Fitch. He has exhibited widely and his work is in many public and private collections.
Collaborative work has been the focus of his activity in recent years, initially with the modernist potter Bethan Lloyd Worthington, working on a series of inlaid and enameled porcelain works. Other brief collaborations followed, with the ceramic artists Helen Felcey and Sharon Blakey. In 2009 he began what has proved to be a significant collaborative journey with the internationally renowned textile artist Alice Kettle. This fruitful collaboration continues and the resultant work has been exhibited in both ceramic and textile focused exhibitions.
As an academic Alex was frequently called upon to write about his subject for journal articles, books, educational slide sets and exhibition catalogues. His book ‘The Art of Throwing’ was published by the Crowood press in 2002. He continues to work on publication, helping to put together the book ‘A Japanese Passion’ about the potter Edward Hughes, (published 2012).
A visit to Switzerland in 1991 to document the work of Patrick Sargent led to the making of his first film ‘Made in Switzerland’. He subsequently directed ten other films, mostly of ceramic subjects but others are about metal and textile artists. Some of the films were selected for screening at film festivals all around the world including, France, Spain, Korea, the USA and the UK.
As an exhibition curator Alex has been particularly active since the nineties. He has worked collaboratively on curatorial projects and instigated many exhibitions himself. ‘Firing Thoughts’ brought the drawings and sketchbooks of ceramic artists to public display for the first time. The resultant catalogue was very well received. Working with York Art Gallery he has been able to draw on their outstanding collections of studio pottery and historical ceramics. The major exhibition, ‘Honest Pots’ (2010-11) explored the influence of country pottery on modern studio pottery and was particularly popular with visitors.
Background and Education
1967-9 Blackburn School of Art and Design
2010 ‘Honest Pots’ traditional English country pottery and its impact on studio ceramics. Oct 2010- Sept 2011. York Art gallery, York.
Film Directing History
The majority of the films were made together with Steven Yates (cameras) & John Davis (editing).
2012 ‘Select, Pairings II’ Stroud international textiles. April-May 2012. Collaborative work with Alice Kettle included in this exhibition.
Work represented in public collections
Bolton Museum and Art Gallery
View Image Gallery Selected Images
Contact DetailsStudio Address: ., Chorley, Lancashire, England, .
Joined on: 2012-05-22