Philomena Pretsell | Smile more...

"I’m looking for a generosity of spirit in form, content and expression; that kind of approach to work inspires me in my own practice."


Philomena Pretsell
"Smile more – a pot that raises a smile sparks a reaction, whether from the complete ridiculous audacity of it or the narrative it inspires.

In any art form, my search is for that something that awakens my senses; I’m looking for a generosity of spirit in form, content and expression; that kind of approach to work inspires me in my own practice. At a film, concert, theatre or exhibition I’m hoping for the unexpected, the fearlessness of the creator, something to make me draw breath in amazement - or laugh out loud!

Philomena Pretsell | Loudmouth
So, no pressure on me as my own claywork develops in the workshop…….the pots are HOT! WARM and often LOUD but never cool and colour is part of the celebration, there’s no restriction of palette; this comes from deep inside, it’s instinctive - a place where humour, heat and heart play a huge part; a place of escape, perhaps, but also a recognition of the JOY and privilege of working with this demanding medium.


#1‘Loudmouth’ - it’s noisy! It could be 'Big Mouth'

Does it make you laugh or grimace?  Whatever your reaction, it’s ok as you have responded……it’s drawn your attention – they remind me of a Muppet………!!? (unintentional) it’s the sheer expression of joy and playing with materials – why not!

Philomena Pretsell | Heart-stopper4






Heart-stopper4
Luscious blue glaze saturated with traditional ‘mug transfer’ The combination of the old and the new has long held my interest. In a wider ceramic sense, it's a more inclusive place.

Philomena Pretsell | Painted Carpet







Painted Carpet 

From a painting by Peter Pretsell who was a very talented artist, lecturer, painter, printmaker and draughtsman. For the first time, I’m combining his mark making on paper and canvas with mine on clay (only taking me 12 years to accomplish)


Philomena Pretsell | Heart-stopper 2 





Look inside Heartstopper4

Calling London. Self-explanatory.
Philomena Pretsell | Calling London


















(I’m more than happy to see these vessels as practical objects for food or flowers or plants etc. I give them titles to help me identify them) All work is multi (high) fired handbuilt, slip decorated earthenware with oxides, stains, gold lustre, personal and open stock decals. P.S. Why more gold? There’s nothing like a health scare to focus the attention on those you love including clay; it comes with a certain kind of liberty too. Five years ago, with severe damage to the spine from osteoporotic fractures and faced with a life lacking balance and restricted mobility and NO CLAY WORK galvanised the spirit to overcome barriers literally and metaphorically. Through Taoist Tai Chi I can now walk upright and stand to handle clay etc. and smile again.

Traditionally there had and have been many successful female role models as potters, so females already had a voice. 

My career in ceramics found no sexism; gender didn’t come into it. Traditionally there had and have been many successful female role models as potters, so females already had a voice. To me being true to myself and my work mattered and matters more. At home, I was surrounded by males – a husband, and eventually three sons, a male beagle and female cat, so being female was celebrated; well, I began to realise why all my work was so ‘female’ so celebrating my home environment became a natural process of working with clay.
Philomena Pretsell | Heartstopper 1

I was lucky enough to be rejected from two teacher training colleges for women so during a gap year in London I secured a place at Northampton School of Art. At the end of the first year I was marrying one of my lecturers; so after a wonderful whole day’s interview at Farnham, with Henry Hammond and other welcoming staff members, they reluctantly suggested I didn’t attend Farnham but stay at Northampton for another year. (Travelling to and from Farnham and Northampton on a regular basis was impractical)

On buying our first house we set up a small pottery with kick wheel and kiln and started our family; at weekends I demonstrated at local English village fairs and sold work over the next few years. We moved to Edinburgh for Peter’s senior lectureship in Printmaking in 1986 and the next year, having built up a suitable portfolio of drawings, I was accepted into the second year at ECA (Edinburgh College of Art) where after three more years I won a scholarship for a further postgraduate year.

I owe such a lot to the academic route and to the ceramic course I was fortunate enough to attend

Edinburgh’s ceramic course was a place to explore yourself and discover what you wanted to say and do – your own ideas were encouraged to flourish and expand and we had plenty of space, literally and metaphorically, to do it in. The course was balanced with an academic assessment where the humanities made up 12% of the mark and I loved researching the work of painters, sculptors and makers and their approaches to their work. Encouraged to enter national and international ceramic competitions where work was accepted in both; I was also asked, as a new graduate, to exhibit at Contemporary Ceramics shop in Marshall Street. Subsequently, as a visiting lecturer in Edinburgh, Sunderland and Dundee universities, I met and worked with some fascinating people whose energy and enthusiasm fuelled my own practice. I owe such a lot to the academic route and to the ceramic course I was fortunate enough to attend; the apprenticeship method would not have suited that particular individualist approach, to work and life, which emerged during my undergraduate years. I come from a place where ideas are paramount; that way of searching, deep inside, continues to drive me and the learning curve is forever steep working with clay and it’s materials.

I still work from home setting up this workshop in 1990; two miniature wire-haired daxies live here too. " Philomena Pretsell 2018

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular Posts