Art communicates by combining process, materials and concept, this fusion is particularly poignant in the world of crafts.
Peter Beard has explored this area through his ceramics for many years and his success is verified by international reputation.
Making is central to the crafts and arguably it defines the nature of man, the toolmaker.The earliest ceramics took the form of idols offered to the gods on a fire, thus proving that the act of making has spiritual and aesthetic considerations equalling, or perhaps exceeding, its utilitarian ones. Peter Beard is primarily interested in aesthetic considerations; his experience transcends the skill needed to create an object. It is his ability to define and create a beautiful object that singles him out. Although Peter is a master of the processes he employs, (usually slab building or throwing) he is not a slave to technique. He draws together slabs of clay to form an elegantly twisting line along the edge of a pot, yet he is brave enough to leave the rim pinched and fresh, acknowledging the act of forming the clay. If a process is to speak of anything then it must speak unabashedly of itself; the hand forming the clay. Every pot Peter makes bears testimony to this.
Ceramics is one of the few areas where art meets science. The selection of materials is often based on empirical as much as on personal preference. It is when the research and preferences meet that a true sense of the maker's intentions become clear. This is especially evident in Peter's work with glazes. He is a man who takes risks, glazes bubbling here and running there. These risks have their dividend; the run of the glaze informs us directly of the subtle curves of a form, as gravity takes an opportune moment to intervene before being frozen as the kiln cools. The blisters represent a meeting of two opposing glazes along a boundary defined by the maker's hand; a pattern being too crude a word to articulate the juxtaposition of these two volcanic forces. It is Peter's combination of research, risk taking and self-criticism that enables him to keep up his fearless standard, right to the edge of what even he thinks possible.
Peter is aware of historical ceramic precedents, the ancient art of Egypt is a touchstone for a lot of his recent work. He is no imitator though, and his work is a personal reinvention of the past, at once contemporary yet imbued with an archaic authority. This reinvention is born of Peter's approach to his work. He sees himself as firstly a maker. It is by making that ideas reveal themselves and are refined. The act of making distils Peter's experiences, be they a favourite landscape or a pre-Raphelite painting. The results bear no direct lineage to any one precedent, but they are a pretty potent brew. In Peter Beard's work the trinity of process, materials and concept are so closely woven that it is almost impossible to tease them apart. Peter's ability to twist such tightly spun cloth shows his immense skill and determination. The end results speak clearly of the potter himself. It is no surprise that his pots have garnered such acclaim.
I make thrown and hand-built pieces in oxidised stoneware. I have recently diversified into working with bronze, cast iron and stone, in addition to ceramics.
Work generally available from:
Contemporary Ceramics, Marshall Street, London.
Bowie & Hulbert, Hay on Wye, Herefordshire.
Stour Gallery, Shipton on Stour Warwickshire
Round House Gallery, Foston, Derbyshire
Regularly gives lectures/demonstrations to Colleges and Ceramic Groups.
I run Summer Workshops on decorating techniques (bookings from previous Autumn for each year recommended)
I make thrown and hand-built pieces in oxidised stoneware fired to 1280°C, using combinations of shiny, matt and semi-matt glazes, built up in layers prior to firing to create textural surfaces in a range of pastel shades and some stronger colours. Wax resist is used extensively to create patterns and to isolate the glaze layers during application.
Born in Southport, Lancashire in 1951.
I first encountered clay when I was a small child and whilst studying for my degree in industrial design and furniture design at Ravensbourne College of Art in London (1970-1973) was able to spend time in the ceramics department.
On finishing college I helped set up a pottery in Scotland making thrown domestic stoneware. I opened my first studio in Kent in 1975, making mainly sculptural pieces. My current studio is in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
I have exhibited regularly in group exhibitions and one man shows since 1975 in Britain and abroad. My work represented on the Crafts Council index of selected members.
2008 Invited on teaching tour of South Africa
2007 Teaching at JJ School of Art, Mumbai, India
1976 Elected member of Craft Potters Association of Great Britain
1989 Elected to the Council of the Craft Potters Association of Great Britain
1990 Awarded traveling scholarship by South East Arts to study in Egypt.
1990 Awarded Award of Merit, Fletcher Challenge International Ceramics Competition, New Zealand
1992 Lecture and workshop tour of New Zealand and Australia supported by the British Council
1993 Employed as consultant by the charity Project Ploughshare on a project to set up a pottery in Ethiopia
1995 Awarded funding by South East Arts for travel and research in Japan
1996 Winner of the INAX Design Prize, INAX Corporation, Japan
1999 Elected member of the Academy of International Ceramics
2000 Winner of the Pot d’Or at Keramisto, Holland
2002 Purchase Award, the 2002 International Orton Cone Box Show, USA
2002 Winner of silver medal at XV111 International Biennial of Ceramic Art, Vallauris, France
2004 Major Arts Council award for research
2004 Exhibited bronze sculptures at the Royal Academy, London
2005/6 Continued to have regular one-man and joint exhibitions internationally
2007 Major one-man show of clay, metal and stone at Rufford Art Gallery, UK
2008 One-man exhibition of ceramics and bronzes at Cymroza Gallery, Mumbai
2009 Guest Artist at International Ceramics Studio, Kecskemét, Hungary
2010 Galerie Du Don, France
2011 Major commission to produce ceramic pieces for the Gold Medal winning Monaco Garden, Chelsea Flower Show
Resists and Masking Techniques in Ceramics for A&C Black. ISBN No 0-7136-3747-1