Several DPG members made it along to Ceramic Art London at the end of February 2012, but only Fiona Kelly has written about it. She has also posted some pictures at this link :-
Once again I was lucky enough to go and spend all three days at Ceramic Art London. On day One there were only 2 talks, plus tours of the MA Ceramics and Glass facilities at the Royal College of Art, which I had done last year, so didn’t again and had plenty of time to look round the 77 stands. There were 27 new exhibitors which gave the show a fresher feel, and some of the “usual crowd” had some really interesting new work on show. Tony Laverick* had some big pots, Eddie Curtis* had a new range of pots – the Blast Series, and Matthew Blakely* had changed his work completely as he is now working closely with Cambridge University Geology Department, and his pots are made as far as possible using clay and glaze materials for particular sites all over the British Isles (and the prices reflected this change of focus!) – Ceramic Landscapes. * photos attached
Kicking off the Discovery Programme was a talk by Carola Zee, a designer from Holland who trained in Graphic Design and didn’t find ceramics until she was 28. With very little experience she decided that as she hadn’t got kids or a mortgage, she would quit her job and set up a workshop, in her parent’s garage. Not a thrower she went into small batch production using moulds, and had some success with her designs, supplementing her income with freelance graphic design work. Wanting to develop more of her own style, to differentiate her work from others, she went to do a residency in Jingdezhen in 2007. Here she developed a range of 3 vases “Made in China”. She was fascinated with the city and the production process there. Rather than making the pieces herself 13 specialists had had a hand in the production of her pieces. After a spell back home she returned to China and rented a workshop developing new work – porcelain lampshades, Moa spoons! amongst others – and producing pitcher and cup sets using coloured porcelain. She uses the thixotrophic qualities in the porcelain to subtly change the shapes in the latter, before they are taken to the communal kiln for firing. After 3 months of making, she packs everything in special packaging, takes samples home and does advertising, marketing and sales. She approaches magazines for articles, attends trade fairs and gives demonstrations. During a 3 month residency in Canada she developed a new mould making technique using flower foam, dipped in plastic which she will be using in future production. She wants to continue working in Jingdezhen, setting up a permanent workshop that will carry on with production when she’s back in Europe marketing, etc. Her presentation was very slick, she was very businesslike and very energetic – as Felicity Aylieff (the MC) said – she’s done it all, and made it work for her.
At the end of the afternoon Stephanie Quayle* took to the podium. Her life size animals were the first thing you saw when you arrived at CAL including a stag she had built in a day using self hardening clay, which was still drying out during the show. She trained as a sculptor and came to clay in the last year of her MA at the RCA, 5 years ago. She was brought up on a farm on the Isle of Mann and always studied animals. She found her BA at the Slade intimidating and left feeling chaotic, so she applied to do her MA exploring found objects, made objects and modelling. She had always found life drawing helpful, quick drawings of birds in the park, then modelling these out of junk, but she wanted something more instantaneous. Made a bear shape out of mud, which led her into clay, combining clay with found objects to capture animal feeling. During a residency in Belize, making sculpture in the jungle, she used river clay to sculpt animals which then got altered by the rain, and other
materials – a mammoth from banana tree trunks and fronds. A later residency in Bangladesh brought more colour into her work. After finishing her MA she started using air hardening clay, her animals were getting realer, made quickly and to scale.
Problems with cracking made her turn to fired clay, and she has moved her workshop home to the Isle of Mann where she got a grant to help her buy her kiln. She still works in many materials – air dough and jesmanite with which she’s made life sized elephants – ideal, but very expensive, produced for a shop display and shipped to Japan and China, and well as wood, sacks and plant material. Her partner is an ice sculpture and they produce pieces together at winter festivals.
People will always need plates
Hannah Dipper and Robin Farquhar set up their business eight years ago. Hannah came through Ceramic Design at Stoke in 1998 and an MA at the RCA, and Robin studied Industrial Design at Brunel before working for some years in event design. After her MA Hannah worked freelance designing for Rosenthal and part time in Vessel in Notting Hill which gave her a good business base and an insight into how to sell, to give products a narrative.
Their first joint show was at the V&A fete in 2004. They used architectural illustrations, screen printed onto bought in plates. Black and white images with a one colour background – lime green and acid orange proving to be the best sellers. They found the work very exciting, and were very particular about quality control which generated a lot of second which they sold face to face at the East London Design Show. This led on to a commission for the De La Warr Pavillion at Bexhill on Sea using similar techniques. They worried about imitation, so started to do trade shows to help them own their brand, concentrating on European shows – Ambiente and Maison. They have worked in collaboration with other artists – eg. weaving, and businesses – eg. Clothkits. They are gradually building a profile and have undertaken consultancies for Habitat and Royal Doulton, when designing for others they pay very careful attention to the brief. As a couple (now with a child) living and working together they presented a very dynamic outlook.
Over lunchtime there was a short film showing Felicity Aylieff’s recent residency undertaken at the Royal Delft Factory in the Netherlands. A beautifully filmed piece looking at her approach to creating contemporary plate designs drawn from their historic collection.
Then Sandy Brown talked about her next installation “A Modern Banquet” for which she is making and designing the objects, and in search of sponsorship. She started thinking about this five years ago when she was in Japan. There the cookery magazines focus on studio ceramics. There is a dynamic relationship between food and pottery, chefs and potters. Back in the UK she wanted to celebrate this vibrant relationship, making each piece unique with soft throwing and spontaneous decoration. She throws on a Japanese kick wheel, which stops you labouring for too long – each piece is made with an economy of movement. She fires to stoneware temperatures using slip trailing, cobalt, manganese and stains for her doodling decoration – making pieces in an adventurous way that can be functional. Visual Jazz.
In complete contrast the third lecture of Day 2 was Professor Rob Kesseler – Molecular morsels and micro-botanics, the secret life of plates and banqueting en pleine air.
As Professor of Ceramic Art and Design at St. Martins Rob has been investigating plants through the microscope to develop designs to print onto plates/dinner services. He has worked with a pollen expert from Kew to examine pollen through an electron microscope – these images are then coloured in sympathy with the plant/flower for reproduction as digital images and transfers. In 2000 he produced a setting for 12 using texts from John Ruskin to decorate plates for a dinner in Grizedale Forest in Cumbria – the food served having been collected from the forest – dining al fresco as evening fell over the Lakeland scene. Further collaborations have celebrated Wordsworth and willow pattern for Stoke – imposing willow pattern images on cellular structures.
In 2010 he was sponsored by the Gulbenkian Foundation near Lisbon to undertake an Art and Science project. He took stem sections in enormous detail from different plants, each of which responded differently to various dyes – these became the decoration for the plates produced by a Portuguese porcelain factory, using a 7 colour printing process, for use in the Foundation’s receptions. These quite extraordinary decorative images “become the agent for unexpected experiences and social interaction”.
Returning to hands-on demonstration Dylan Bowen* rounded off the day. Having worked with his father from 16 to 18 he went to Camberwell to study Ceramics graduating in 1991. Then back to producing slip ware in Devon with his father before setting up his own studio in 1998. He has developed a strong personal voice in his work, a lot of which is not thrown conventionally – plates thrown upside down; tall vessels not thrown at all, but created from a block of clay with a stick poked through it, which is then facetted and later hollowed out, some of these pieces are “strangled” with plastic strips. He demonstrated the making of these two techniques and then decorated some plates with slips. The white slip being a Devon ball clay, the black a red earthenware and manganese slip, all under a clear glaze. An unconventional potter.
Day 3 kicked off the Steve Brown and Ashley Howard*
Steve is a commercial print maker and friend of the potter Ashley Howard. They gave a demonstration of how they have been combining their work, producing vessels by most unconventional methods – “live without a safety net”. The first piece they produced started with Steve printing onto a flat base, coated with porcelain slip. The latter had to be dried to just the right degree before he dusted underglaze black through a screen print mesh onto base. Ashley then threw a thick cylinder without a base which was turned over on to the printed base before the sides were facetted to give a flat surface onto which further images could be printed using potter’s tissue.
For their next trick Steve printed onto a flat base which he then suspended in a lycra sling to produce a curved base, and for the sides of this pot he printed puff binder onto a strip of fabric, once puffed up by heating with a heat gun – this strip was joined at the ends and given to Ashley who threw a large donut, before slipping the fabric over the outside and pushing the clay out into the puff design. Again this was inverted onto the pre-prepared base to produce a large rounded bottom pot. Once the fabric was peeled away the imprint on the design could be seen on the outside of the vessel.
Most interesting techniques, but not for the faint hearted – a most amusing demo with witty interaction throughout.
Another lunchtime film was shown of a Masterclass by Koie Ryoji at the Leach Pottery in 2010. Jill Fanshawe Kato acted as master of ceremonies throughout, asking questions and explaining techniques as Koie demonstrated throwing on a kick wheel, turning on a chuck so as not to flatten the rims, and assembling his free form vases. The latter are part of the tea ceremony – used with just one or two flowers. He threw platters – throwing a large bellied bowl and then splitting it open and laying it on its side.
The final talk of the programme was given by Katie Bunnell on ceramic surface pattern design. She is the Head of Research into digital technology at Falmouth, using the creative opportunities it enables. Some as simple as taking a photo on a mobile phone, photoshopping it and having ceramic decals made of the images – others with complex layering of images. The former she will use to make individual pieces, one offs, using the same image but in different colours. Allowing her to play with colour and composition on plates which can work as individual or as a group. She has developed many decals from natural forms and floral motifs, adapting a digital router for pen drawing in collaboration with Jessie Higginson. Another collaboration with Chris Tipping in 2009 resulted in the construction of a 9m x 5m wall of plates to commemorate the stone mining at Coombe Down, where the stone to build Bath was mined. This involved translating engineers’ information into usable data and layering that with maps of mine shafts, geology and topographical detail. Then adding further information for ceramic shards, bat populations and flora and fauna. Digital ceramic Systems in Stoke made the decals and orientation back marker for each plate. Two sets of plates were made – the second set being given to householders in the area, and some auctioned off to help with costs. More recently she is using more 3D forms – e.g. beakers which she developed for Wills Lane Gallery in St Ives for Collect at the V&A – using relief decals and firing several times, one above the other. www.air.falmouth.ac.uk