Line & Form | In Conversation with Emily Myers

Line and Form | 13th February — 7th March 2020 
Emily Myers, Anna Silverton and Ali Tomlin

Emily Myers | Mark Somerville
Our current exhibition brings together three makers whose work explores relationships between surface and form: Emily Myers, Anna Silverton and Ali Tomlin. For each maker, it would be difficult to divide where the starting point of throwing the vessel separates from ideas around decoration, or the finished surface. Emily Myers observes: “My forms are all thrown initially and then altered, carved or faceted at the leather hard stage. Some pieces are textured with sculpting tools such as a surform or hacksaw blades. I aim for well-proportioned forms with poise.” Anna Silverton describes her process: “I work iteratively, closely watching the profile while making incremental modifications — stretching what I can do and what the porcelain will tolerate.” Ali Tomlin explains: “I like to make most pieces more or less in one go; this means throwing, drying and turning still on the wheel, all the while contemplating what this piece will look like.”

We wanted to find out more about each maker's creative practice, and particularly the shared exploration of relationships, and we open our conversations with Emily Myers

"I find beauty in metal objects such as ancient armour and metal cogs."

Relationships

Contemporary Ceramics: How do you approach the relationship between surface and form?

Emily Myers Vessel | Photo: Emily Myers
Emily Myers: The surface of my current pots are intricately and painstakingly carved. The proportions and thickness of the thrown pot must be just right before I start carving at the leather hard stage. If it is badly proportioned it will stubbornly remain so despite the surface work. I instinctively know what lines or facets will suit certain forms. For example, a pot with a pronounced “shoulder” works best with vertical lines and bring poise, while swirling lines give movement.

CC: The green barium glaze is a surface you return to, what role does colour take in your work?

EM: I find beauty in metal objects such as ancient armour and metal cogs. The green barium glaze emulates verdigris copper and bronze; it contrasts well with the naked high-fired red clay.

CC: Investigating relationships between pieces, when paired or in groups is theme you’re developing at the moment. Can you tell us more about this?

EM: Pots often work well in groups or families as a conversation is set up between pieces. Once in pairs, the space between the pots also becomes tangible. I hope to capture the quiet composure of Morandi’s paintings.

Studio

Emily Myers | Exhibition Detail |Photo: Dee Honeybun
CC: How do you work?

EM: All my pots are thrown initially and then I work on them once they are leather hard. I enjoy exploring the possibilities of altering round forms to create new shapes. I flatten or tilt, facet or carve the forms.

CC: What images keep you company in the space where you work?

EM: My workshop is too small to have anything on the walls. I do have a world map so that when I listen to From Your Own Correspondent on the Radio 4 I know what country they are talking about!

 

Background

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

EM: I consider myself very lucky to have attended King Alfred’s School in North London which had a proper pottery and a great teacher. When I was twelve, I decided I wanted to be a pottery teacher. By the time I was fifteen I was spending every lunch break in the pottery.

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

Emily Myers | Photo: Dee Honeybun
EM: It was a piece of architecture; Battersea Power Station. I grew up in London and I was taken with its clean lines and imposing structure. At the time I was doing my pottery “O” levels I even made a ceramic model of it. Sadly the chimneys warped in the kiln. Even so, my parents faithfully kept it and have it still.

CC: What has been a seminal/inspirational moment?

EM: I studied at Bristol Art School in the 1980s. Watching Walter Keeler doing an in-depth demonstration was inspirational. His method of working was a great influence on me at that time. My degree show which was based on car exhaust pipes was rather derivative.

Emily Myers | Photo: Dee Honeybun
CC: How does working with clay influence your life beyond the workshop?

EM: Being a potter means that I can work from home and fit work around bringing up my 3 children. For example, I carve my pots at the kitchen table so that I can chat to the kids at the same time.

You can see Ali's work, together with Emily Myers and Anna Silverton in Line and Form, at Contemporary Ceramics until the 7th March 2020

 https://www.contemporaryceramics.uk/

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