Slipped | Contemporary approaches to the traditional art of slipware | In conversation with Dylan Bowen, Doug Fitch and Nigel Lambert

Our current selling exhibition Slipped brings together three makers working with clay, all with contemporary approaches to the traditional art of slipware: Dylan Bowen, Doug Fitch and Nigel Lambert.

We take a glimpse into the creative lives of the three artists and their ceramics as they talk about their influences, approaches to making, and thoughts behind the work on display for this exhibition.

If you are able to visit our London ceramics gallery, you can see the pieces on display in our Emmanuel Cooper Gallery.  For those who can't visit, the full list and images of exhibition pieces can be seen here http://cpaceramics.com/ccc/currentex . This post also includes a selection of photographs showing some of the ceramics from the exhibition.

Dylan Bowen

Dylan Bowen | Image: Ben Ramos
"At the moment I am interested in working with both clay and slip at the point of almost-collapse. Through the making and slipping process, there are a lot of changes – some planned, some just happen. " Dylan Bowen 2019

Contemporary Ceramics Centre: Why do you do what you do?


Dylan Bowen | Large Jug
Dylan Bowen: To try and express myself ? 

CCC: How did you first get involved in working with clay? 

DB: I started young. It is the family business. 

CCC: Are there new pieces or a new direction in your work that will be explored for this exhibition? 

DB: Yes, I am aiming at combining various elements of my existing work. The functional and the more sculptural.

CCC: How do you work?

DB:  I work pretty quickly in series. 12 plates, then maybe some bottle shapes. Then spend some time working on new ideas. It depends what I need really, if I have a commission etc. I like variety. 

CCC: How has your practice changed over time? 

DB: I think it has. I don’t think I make the same mistakes quite so often maybe. I try to eliminate things a little earlier. 

Dylan Bowen | Small Plate 
CCC: What images keep you company in the space where you work? 

DB: There is not much wall space. I have old exhibition posters, cards etc I have a picture of Miro painting in his studio that makes me feel pretty good. 

CCC: What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you? 

DB: I think it was a piece of music. I used to play my Dad’s old 45s all the time. Eddie Cochran was probably my favourite. “Summertime Blues” “Cut across Shorty” “Something Else” They have a precise genius to them. I always wanted to have that direct communication in my work. To get to what’s really important, to plug straight in to the source.

CCC: What role does the potter/ceramist have in the 21st Century? 

DB: Small but vital! to fight against homogenised blandness and boring lifeless tedium.

Dylan Bowen | Cut Shape




CCC: How do you hope people experience your ceramics? 

DB: I hope they bring some excitement maybe? some humour, some life.

CCC: How does working with clay influence your life beyond the workshop?

DB: I am always thinking about my work. what’s next, what’s working, what do I need to do. It’s probably not a healthy influence.



Doug Fitch

Doug Fitch | Image: Kim Ayres
"My pots all refer back to a childhood experience in archaeology and draw their inspiration in form, material and decorative technique from traditional British pottery, which is reinterpreted in a contemporary fashion. " Doug Fitch 2019

Contemporary Ceramics Centre: What themes or techniques will you be exploring through the show?
Doug Fitch | Small Applique Swag and Sprig Jug, Honey

Doug Fitch: I will be adopting various traditional slipware techniques, exploring the manner in which a basic palette of materials can be used in combination, to maximum effect. Some pots will be decorated with a covering of a green, white or black slip, poured over surfaces of applied pellets and coils.

CCC: What is your process for making these pieces? What parts of the process do you particularly embrace or enjoy?

DF: The work will all be wheel-thrown. The throwing lines on the surface of my pots are left to echo the speed of hand and wheel during the shaping of the gritty clay, telling the story of the dynamic energy of their manufacture. Some pots are embellished with modelled birds, which are more caricature than literal interpretations.

CCC: What inspires your recent work?

Doug Fitch |  Small Pellet Jug Green
DF: My pots all refer back to a childhood experience in archaeology and draw their inspiration in form, material and decorative technique from traditional British pottery, which is reinterpreted in a contemporary fashion. The natural world of the rural location of the workshop that I share with my wife, Hannah McAndrew, informs my pots every day, both in terms of shape and composition of decorative application.

CCC: How do you hope people experience your ceramics?

Doug Fitch | Sprig and Applique Mug
DF: I hope that people can get a sense of the pleasure and love that I enjoy in my life as a potter. The pots feel happy to me, I invest great passion and energy into their creation. I hope that is transmitted to the viewer. Because the pots have their roots in an ancient tradition, which is ever-developing, I aim to make work that adds something of myself as a maker in the 21st century. This should enable the pieces to fit comfortably into an ancient or contemporary environment.



Nigel Lambert

Nigel Lambert | Image: Ben Boswell
"I’ve always been interested in the process of making pots, evidence of the maker being seen in the finished work, not in a forced deliberate way, but with the natural marks that the potter leaves in the throwing and handling of soft clay." Nigel Lambert 2019 

Contemporary Ceramics Centre: What themes or techniques will you be exploring through the show?

Nigel Lambert: It’s sometimes difficult making work for exhibitions, as my making has always been rooted in function, pots that are at home in a domestic environment. Pots are mostly small and made in multiples, to try and distil all my ideas and techniques into a few pieces to be displayed in an exhibition environment, is always a challenge. For this group of work I have been focusing on pieces that would be placed on the table on special occasions, a family gathering, a celebration with food.

Nigel Lambert | Oval Store Jar
CCC: What is your process for making these pieces? What parts of the process do you particularly embrace or enjoy?

NL:  I will be making the work for this exhibition alongside the regular production of my workshop. Life in the workshop is a slow steady process, wedging all my clay, and throwing on my Korean/Continental kick wheel hybrid. Slabs for the handbuilt pieces are bashed out on a large concrete bench. Although using traditional materials and processes, I use these in a contemporary way to develop and grow my practice. The work is fired in one of my two wood-fired kilns; a large 80 cuft trolly kiln and a small more versatile pheonix design kiln, which I fire more frequently. I see my work as a linear process, from wedging the clay - through to throwing, slipping, glazing and firing; stoking the kiln taking on the same rhythm as throwing and decorating. It’s about moving and thinking at the same pace.

CCC: What inspires your recent work?

Nigel Lambert | Side Plate

NL: I’ve always been interested in the process of making pots, evidence of the maker being seen in the finished work, not in a forced deliberate way, but with the natural marks that the potter leaves in the throwing and handling of soft clay. This informs how I work. My inspiration comes from all I do in my daily life; the colours, the textures, the food growing in the garden, how I’m going to cook it, and the way I want the food to look when presented, a walk through the city when I’m in London. All these are filtered down into the pots and painting I apply to the surface of the pieces.

CCC: How do you hope people experience your ceramics?

NL: I want to pass on the joy and excitement I feel when I’m making my work,  through the pots when they are at the table. I see a pot as not quite complete until it is presented at the table filled with food, bringing everyone together.
Nigel Lambert | Large Oval Jug

















Photographs(unless named): Dee Honeybun

Slipped

25th July to 17th August 2019

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