Fred Gatley | Objects for Contemplation

"Over the last twenty years, my work has developed further by the careful incorporation of found materials within the works, even incorporating some materials within my clay bodies."

I often refer to myself as a maker and occasionally nowadays as a potter, this is because, in the last few years, I have begun making functional, workaday pots. I enjoy making things and I also enjoy working in materials other than clay. 

My fascination and focus with clay go back to my undergrad studies at Bristol Polyethnic, this was in the mid-seventies where I was taught on a very ‘open’ ceramics course by Wally Keeler and Mo Jupp amongst others. In terms of my education, this was the first of what turned out to be three degrees, each one of which helped to refine my making and developed my clay working techniques. This, combined with over 40 years of studio work, reflection and exhibiting have brought my work to where you see it today.

Canadian Pine 
Over the last twenty years, my work has developed further by the careful incorporation of found materials within the works, even incorporating some materials within my clay bodies. I have also amalgamated sands and silts, muds, gravels, shards of broken pottery, brick fragments, rusting iron and various organic materials within my works. All of these incorporations retell their own story within the works or bring a resonance of history or perhaps a specific location to each piece.

"Surface texture, proportion and balance are vital in all my pieces, and my work may often be seen as referencing the ceremonial, offering an object for contemplation."

Refuge Bowls
Creating work for my exhibitions usually starts with a walk in the area which is the focus for my works or the location of the gallery. During this walk, I will take photos and collect many things such as pieces of wood, bark, stones, rusting artefacts, anything. These may directly influence the work; they may be incorporated into a piece or can simply provide background texture or location to the pieces.

Rabley Bowl
My work changed fundamentally in the early 1980s when, by chance, I ‘sanded’ the surface of a small pot I had made. On firing this piece, it became covered in blisters and warts from copper filings that I had mixed into the porcelain body. This ‘sanding’ inadvertently resulted in my polishing the hard surface of the high-fired pot. And, so began many years of research investigating post-fire surface polishing for ceramics.

"I don’t have a favourite pot or potter"


Portland
Surface texture, proportion and balance are vital in all my pieces, and my work may often be seen as referencing the ceremonial, offering an object for contemplation. Many make comparisons between my work and elements found within Japanese culture and some of my pieces may be viewed almost as one would look on a Zen garden with its carefully arrange stones and meticulously raked gravel, I would enjoy that comparison.

Though I don’t have a favourite pot or potter as such I am always impressed by works from Wally Keeler, Duncan Ross, Edmund De Waal and Annie Turner.

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