Winter at Contemporary Ceramics Centre

December Rotation

New Makers On Display 

Every four months Contemporary Ceramics Centre introduces new makers into the gallery. This is an opportunity to showcase different members of the Craft Potters Association and to discover more about the artists and their work. This current rotation period runs between December 2016 and the end of March 2017 and features seven artists whose diversity in approach to making and personal vision yet again shows how wonderful and versatile one material, i.e. clay can be.

It is noticeable how ceramics and pottery are commanding greater interest, helped by programs such as The Great Pottery Throwdown, now heading towards its' second season, and of course the internet and social media. Very exciting stuff! Of course, this has not been helped in the UK where over the last few years Ceramics courses have closed or are facing closure. With this in mind, we are curious about the different experiences and routes makers took when first beginning with clay and we have asked these featured artists to tell us what first inspired them.

Each journey is different and whether through formal education, mid-career change in direction or by starting at a young age, these stories illustrate perseverance, strength in creativity and personal vision. Hopefully, these stories will inspire others.

Patricia Shone

'It has taken perseverance and a long time, to the point of almost giving up which was when the work finally began to develop into something I could recognise as my own voice.'

     Bottles and cups, saggar fired and wood fired stoneware. 2016
I was born in Scotland but apart from my earliest memory of hiding under giant rhubarb leaves I have little recollection of those first years. The rest of my childhood was spent in rural south west England between the sea and the moors. My first experience with clay was at school in Devon in the 1970’s. Halcyon days in education, we had a pottery teacher and dedicated classroom. The teacher was Dave Tellam and pottery was fun with this gentle Viking of a potter, I can’t thank him enough but left it too late to thank him in person. I still remember the feel of that first brown, lumpen ‘pot’ in my hand after it had been glazed and fired. Later I gave up an A level to take pottery O level. Armed with this, a few sketchbooks, a pottery portrait of our outside loo and too much confidence I gained a place on an art foundation course which led to a B.A. in ceramics at Central School of Art and Design in London.

    ‘Peat pots’ tallest 15cm, low fired black clay. 2016. Image by Shannon Tofts
The confidence didn’t last long, I floundered but persisted. Loving the smell of the kiln room, the feel of coiling with crank, carrying the clay (25kg bags in those days) three floors up because the lift never worked, hoping for encouraging words from Gordon Baldwin who always saw more in our work than we could. We had Dan Arbeid, Eileen Nisbet, Rob Kesseller, John Chipperfield, Richard Slee. I appreciate them more now than I did then, but some of it sank in, and always there was the feeling that this is what I’m meant to do. 

My first ‘studio’ was in the crypt of a deconsecrated and semi derelict church, shared with two troglodyte potters who didn’t seem to notice the bone shattering cold of the place. It was not a happy existence. I left college totally unprepared for life and the reality of making a living by my work. Which meant that I didn’t make a living and had to take part time work cooking which soon became full time, a period of hard work and creativity, using similar skills to burn things at high temperatures. I had to learn to roll pastry thinner than the clay.

After 15 years it was cooking which brought me back to Scotland, where I met my husband with whose support I returned to potting full time. I’m not sure he realised the full consequences but he’s quite good in the kitchen these days. 

 Erosion jar 5 ‘iron in the land’ ht 23cm, saggar fired stoneware. 2016. Image by Shannon Tofts
Despite the passage of time I find myself making the same highly textured, full organic forms that most pleased me at college. It has taken perseverance and a long time, to the point of almost giving up which was when the work finally began to develop into something I could recognise as my own voice. I think I stopped caring. Just enough to be able to loosen up in my processes and let go of the tight control as I scraped the life out of the work. I stopped caring about what other people think of the work and I learned that explaining what was wrong with a piece which someone wanted to buy was actually a judgement on their vision. I stopped doing that and now listen to what they see in the work. I started listening less to my brain and more to the inner voice which dares me to keep going when I’m fearful of spoiling a pot, I don’t plan the pieces or draw them and I don’t feel guilty for that anymore although that has been the hardest thing to unlearn from my education. I do wish I had kept up with the drawing if only to see things better.  

 Erosion cup, small ellipse, ht 10cm, saggar fired stoneware. 2015
Getting selected membership of the CPA is a big deal for me, I wish I could tell Dave Tellam. 

 Myung Nam An

 "It has always been my goal as an artist to make work that speaks to the viewer on a deeper level and provokes thought"

Myung Nam An with her work
"Originally I am from Seoul, South Korea. Ceramics has always been close to my heart and in 2005 I decided to study further at University in London. I graduated from Camberwell University in London, achieved BA in Ceramics in 2009 since based in London.

My work is the human being and their everyday life. I find ceramic to be the most suitable material to express my ideas. The characteristics and limitations of the materials are a fundamental issue for me and my process is one based on analysis and experience. I approach my work in both a formal and aesthetic way. That does not mean that emotionality and sensuality are set aside – on the contrary. These pieces evoke cool expression with sensitive undertones and thereby join an abstract, new formalistic movement in contemporary art.

Myung Nam An | Eyes
I am a fan of Alexander McQueen, encasing my circular forms in extravagant and impossible costumes. Why Eyes? I use my work to express my emotions without using a single word. Everyone's eye is slightly different and special in its own way. Looking at person's eye you may understand more about people' personality or life or love.
Myung Nam An | Eyes
My work tells stories using symbols which are universal. You can interpret these in your own way to tell your own tales, and evoke different moods and emotions. I explore abstract appropriated images from our culture and translates these onto the surface of my work. Each of which are steps in their path toward a personal and unique approach to clay.
Myung Nam An | Eyes
 It has always been my goal as an artist to make work that speaks to the viewer on a deeper level and provokes thought."  Myung Nam An 2016

Images | Benedict Johnson

Philip Jolley 

Philip Jolley in front of a nine piece panel

I always liked making things, from dams to models. When at secondary school, I was introduced to clay by art teacher and ceramic enthusiast, Dennis Tams, it became an instant attraction. I left school at 16 and completed a 2-year foundation course at the local art school. I loved it, not only spending all day using a huge variety of different materials to make things but learning photography, textiles, and more ceramics! I then continued with a BA at Stoke Polytechnic (as it was then called) specializing in ceramics. My appreciation of thrown work grew under the guidance of Derek Emms but hand-building became and still is my favoured method of making.

I set up my first workshop in 1980 in Stoke making inlaid geometric angular vessels using stained clays, texture and little or no glaze. Hidden detail and a variety of viewpoints were important. Alongside this I worked a greengrocer during the day. I also joined the Midland Potter’s Association to meet other potters and also exhibit.
Philip Jolley | Bow
In 1990 I was interviewed about slab-building by a student intending to teach ceramics. After discovering that this was only after a 15-week ceramics course I went to a teaching road show and enrolled on a B Ed course in Design and Technology. My intention was always to teach ceramics in the future, but the art course was too far away and I relished the idea of new making methods and materials.

Philip Jolley | Pink Vase

I was lucky that mature student grants were still available (just!). A student again at 36, married, 2 young children and a mortgage. I succeeded in getting a fantastic job a St Edward’s School Oxford to teach ceramics and coach rugby (my other love).

Philip Jolley | wall plaque, paperclay, porcelain, oxides, stains and glazes
I moved to Oxford in 1993, set up another workshop and began teaching. My work has moved away from hard geometric shapes to softer fragmented forms using a variety of glazes, but I still retain the use of inlaid colours, hidden detail, and texture. Influences now range from found objects, architectural features and reference archaeological finds.

All Images: Chris Honeywell

 Adam Frew 

'My journey as a potter has been made possible by the series of opportunities...

Adam Frew in his studio
I first tried throwing and working in clay while doing A Level Art at Castlereagh Technical College in east Belfast.  I left school when I was 16 and this was the first time I was really excited about something I was studying.  I stayed there for 2 years and then did a degree at Belfast Art College in Ceramics.  While at uni I took a ‘year in industry’, I went to Winchcombe Pottery in the Cotswolds first for 3 months, and then to work for Judith Kuitunen in Finland for 11 months.  This taught me so much about production throwing and I got to know some amazing potters. 

Adam throwing in his studio

After Art College I did a two-year apprenticeship in Greenwich, London with Lisa Hammond.  This was the best training I could have had, learning the daily runnings of a pottery and also about selling pots, it set me on the right path to start my own pottery.  

Adam Frew Lidded Vessesls

 My own business began when I had the opportunity of a studio for two years on the north coast of Northern Ireland through Craft NI’s business start-up program ‘Making It’.  The program provided me with a free studio at Flowerfield Arts Centre and also business mentoring for 2 years.  The freedom this gave me to develop my business was invaluable and allowed me to develop a strong functional range that I could market.  
Adam Frew Bowl
My journey as a potter has been made possible by the series of opportunities I have had to study ceramics, work with great potters, do an apprenticeship with Lisa and then start up myself in a supported scheme.
Adam Frew Moon Jar

 Moyra Stewart

'...lucky to have had the choice of courses.'

Moyra Stewart in her studio

As a child I was always playing in mud and fiddling with plasticine but I  didn't touch clay till my last year at school when I took a Craft/Art "O" level where I started throwing and handbuilding.

However, my entry into ceramics was intuitive rather than a conscious decision. Having applied to and been accepted onto a wildlife painting course in South Wales, I discovered within a week that it was not going to work for me. I immediately transferred into the ceramics department. It was a tiny college with an even smaller ceramics department... so small in fact, that when we moved into a larger space we had to make our own benches! But despite its size, the course gave me positive experiences.  I left with a good grounding in the material, a satisfaction that has never left me and the desire to learn more.

Moyra Stewart Handbuilding
I went on to study at Stoke on Trent and Edinburgh College of Art under some great tutors who taught me a broad range of skills in ceramic technique, that have stood me in good stead throughout my forty years of working in clay. I was very lucky to have had the choice of courses: it is so much harder now to find colleges that teach basic clay skills especially here in Scotland.

Making large sculptural forms has always been a passion of mine, from the first year at college and throughout my life: initially handbuilding pieces in Crank clay and firing to stoneware temperatures. In 2011 I began working with Naked Raku which is nerve racking but well worth the effort. My inspiration has always come from nature: organic shapes, patterns from ploughed fields, beaches and Lewisian Gneiss rock from the west coast of Scotland.
Moyra Stewart Boxes
Recently, taking that a step further and creating large "boulders" I realized that in fact I first made big stoneware boulders while working in London with a landscape gardener in 1980!
Moyra Stewart | Boulders

Moyra Stewart | Vessels


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