I came into the world of ceramics not because I liked pots but because I liked clay. When I was a young student most ceramic departments in art colleges taught traditional studio pottery and I knew that was not what I wanted to do. I resisted applying for a ceramic course so my first post Foundation year was on a 3D Design Course where we were given equal amounts of time in wood, metal and, clay.
I enjoyed the time in the ceramic department much more than the other two options but at that time Buckinghamshire College was only approved to offer degree level work in furniture design and silversmithing (some years later they were approved to offer ceramics). During that year I started to research into the possibility of a transfer to another college. I eventually found out that one or two art colleges were exploring, what seemed to me, a more exciting approach to the teaching of ceramics so, I applied to get a place on one. With Frank Vining as an inspirational Head of Ceramics and Tom Hudson as Vice Principal and Director of Studies, Cardiff College of Art was a very exciting place to be in the late 1960s (and beyond). We were taught how to explore, discover, and invent with clay without preconception. Sometimes the approach was almost scientific and at others playful.
This combined with an earlier experience on my Foundation Course, where I was pushed and cajoled into realising a sculpture can evolve naturally step by step and develop further than I ever imagined, has been the bed rock of my working methods for over 40 years.
My work is as much about how I make as what I make. The physical properties of clays are a major part of the attraction for me. The immediacy of the material allows the marvellous combination of head and hand to work together. I like to invent, to surprise myself, to struggle to something just out of reach, and I am most excited by making discoveries that add to my continuous long term development. Working with clay for me is like a journey where you always want to see what is just round the next corner but also occasionally go back to look at something anew or check for things not noticed on the first visit.
My approach has resulted in my work, when seen over a long period, being very diverse - but I rarely repeat old ideas unless I see the chance of an extension of the original.
Most of my work is hand built slab work often using thin sheets if clay. I do occasionally coil, throw, or use casting slip (but not necessarily in a conventional way). The work I produce is sometimes sculptural, sometimes functional, but always, I hope, interesting to look at.
At the start of 2015 I am working on three themes.
1. Exploring the ribbed and textured work I have worked on previously to develop it further and move it towards freer and more fluid forms.
2. Working on a series of pod-like forms using sheets of clay that are cut and joined together. The joins are carefully designed so that they dont quite fit which forces the forms to undulate when constructed. I have worked in this way previously but the new forms are now more sculptural.
3. I am developing forms constructed out of sheets made out of poured casting slip. The original idea was to be able to construct forms like a house of playing cards. I like the free and fluid edges that produce interesting forms. The technique also offers the potential for inventive surface decoration which I am beginning to explore.
Bevere Gallery, Worcestershire, WR3 7RQ
New Ashgate Gallery (9th May 22nd August) - Farnham, Surrey, GU9 7PS
My work over recent years has been in stoneware or porcelain fired to cone 8 after a biscuit firing of 950 to 1000deg.C.
On one range of work I do a third lustre firing to 750degC for this I use commercial lustres carefully blended before applying them to an impervious stoneware surface. Tiny areas of glaze are sometimes incorporated but generally I steer clear of shiny lustre surfaces. In the past I have also had periods using earthenware temperatures and also raku.
A lot of my work is slab built. For this work I prepare my sheets of clays on a wooden board using a rolling pin and 2mm to 10mm rolling guides depending on the job. If feasible it is useful to transfer the sheet to a smooth flat plaster slab for between 10 minutes and an hour depending on the clay and the thickness the plaster absorbs the water and allows the clay to dry quicker.
If I am applying ribbed texture with metal serrated edged tools, the grooves are applied to the sheet of clay by repeatedly pulling the metal tool with the zigzag edge towards oneself using sprayed water as a lubricant. A strip of wood can be used as a guide on the first stroke to ensure straight lines but once the grooves have started to establish themselves the tool stays in place.
After applying the texture the clay can be manipulated when slightly stiffened. A strong, smooth clay gives the best results but a very finely grogged clay can be helpful if difficult joins or shapes are to be tackled. Other textures such as raised dots are applied by pressing peg-board into the clay surface.
Shrewsbury School of Art Foundation Studies 1964-6
Buckinghamshire College, High Wycombe 3D Design -1966-7
Cardiff College of Art - First Class Honours (Ceramics) 1967-9
Goldsmiths College (University of London) 1969-70
Craft Potters Association - from 1996
Ceramic Technician at Buckinghamshire College 1970-71
Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Ceramics at Bradford Art College - 1971-97
Full-time Ceramicist - from 1997
2015 - New Ashgate Gallery, Surrey Summer Craft Collection May to August
2015 - Bevere Gallery, Worcestershire - work in gallery
2011 to 2014 relocating - establishing new studio
2010 - Wow Gallery, Dorking, Surrey,
2009 - Clay 16 Woodbury Studio Gallery, Woodbury, Exeter
2008 - Afresh Gallery Top, Derbyshire
2007 - Spring Exhibition Iona Gallery, Woodstock, Oxford
2006 - Bevere Gallery, Worcester - 2 person show(with Jitka Palmer)
2005 - 3e listrum expsitie Gallery Groot Welsden, Margraten, Holland
2005 - Maidenbridge Arts centre Tatham, Lancashire
2003 - Stoneware Alpha House Gallery, Sherbourne, Dorset
2002 - Clay 9 - 2006 - Woodbury Studio Gallery, Woodbury, Exeter
2001 - Galerie Toon Thijs Nijmegen, Holland
2001 - British Ceramics Loes & Reinier International Ceramics Deventer, Holland
2000 - Prize winners (Keramisto & Frechen) - Mus. Het Valkhof - Nijmegen, Holland
2000 - Gallery Groot Welsden, Margraten, Holland - 2 person show (with John Mullin)
1999 - World Competition of Arts & Crafts Kanazawa 99 Japan
1999 - 3rd International Biennial of Ceramic Art Brussels
1998 - The European Competition Nove, Italy
1997 - Kutani International Decorative Ceramic Fair Competition Komatsu, Japan
National & International Festivals
Art in Clay, Hatfield House, Hertfordshire - 1995/6/2001/2/3/4/6/8
Art in Clay, Farnham, Surrey - 1999/2000/1/2/4/7/8/10/14
Buxton - 2008
Clay Art, Denbigh, Wales - 2002/3
CPA Christmas Fair, Oxford - 1999/2000/1/2/4/7/8/10/14
CPA Christmas Fair, Bloxham, Oxfordshire - 1997/8
Diessener Topfermarkt, Diessen am Ammersee, Germany - 2006
Earth & Fire, Rufford , Nottinghamshire - 1999/2000/1/5/6/7/8/10/14
European Potters Market, Maaseik, Belgium - 1997/8
Keramisto, Millsbeek, Netherlands - 1998/9/2000/5/6/7/8/9/14
Potfest in the Park, Penrith, Cumbria - 1994/5/7/8/9/2000/1/2/3/4/5/6/8/14
Potfest Scotland, Perth - 1998/9/2000/1/2/3/5/14
Swalmen, Netherlands - 2004/6
Topfer Markt, Frechen, Germany - 1999
2014 - Keramisto, Millsbeek, Netherlands (also 2008)
2014 - Art in Clay (Farnham) (also 2000 & 1999)
2011 - Northern Potters (York Art Gallery)
2010 - Northern Potters (University of Central Lancashire - Preston)
2008 - Art in Clay (Hatfield) (also 2001 &1996)
2003 - East Anglian Potters
2003 - Scottish Potters (with Jo Connell & Len Whatley)
2002 - North Wales Potters
2002 - Kent Potters
2001 - The Barnet Collection
2001 - La Meridiana, Tuscany, Italy (with Walter Keeler & Michael Casson)
2000 - London Potters
2000 - Dacorum & Chiltern Potters (with Toff Milway & Gilder Westerman)
1999 - PACs Potters Petersfield, Hampshire.
2002 - Potfest Perth (1st prize)
1999 - Topfer Markt, Frechen, Germany (1st prize )
1999 - Potfest Penrith (3rd prize)
1998 - Potfest Penrith (2nd prize )
Contributions to Magazines
Ceramic Review - September 2006 - Balance & Contrast - Author: Roger Lewis
Klei Magazine - Netherlands May 2002 (featured in article)
Ceramic Review - September 1999 - Boxing Clever - Author: Roger Lewis
Ceramics Monthly USA October 2001 (Photo)
Contributions to Books
Colour in Glazes Linda Bloomfield 2012
Advanced Pottery - Linda Bloomfield 2011
Slab Techniques Jim Robison 2010
500 Ceramic Sculptures 2009
Potfest in the Pens x10 2003
Ceramic Surfaces Jo Connell
Pottery The Essential Manual Doug Wensley 2002
Stoneware Richard Dewar 2002
Clays & Glazes Ceramic Review Publication 2001