THE CLAY IS ALWAYS RIGHT
This is not so much a description of my work, which can be simply inspected and evaluated - but more a statement of intent. a consideration of the wider context in which my work belongs and develops.
Fired clay deserves a better fate than to be circumscribed to the repetitions of the master potter, the strenuous efforts to make unusable pots, the stifiling imposition of pretty decorative craft, the endless enslavement to tradition or the art market - it is time to let it free to be what it can be. I am holding a piece in my hand, a simple bowl by Alex Shimwell that for me is the pure expression of infinite space, the starry sky, the Big Bang...
Ceramic has travelled a road in the opposite direction to music or painting - it has to fight the opposite assumptions and 'regulations'...
Fired clay has such power to reach into the dreamworld of art; it has such transformative potential of materials and ideas, that it deserves to be let lose on its own terms, judged as any other object detached from the stigma of its muddy origins. Indeed, those origins are its very strength and unique integrity.
Potters, ceramicists, ceramic artists, clay designers and makers... we have a plethora of terms to put boundaries around that which cannot be contained. Clay is a subverting material: it beckons you in, it pulls at your delight and ambition and then it resolves to do what it pleases with your effort. You can play along with it or fight it every step of the way: your choice. But the clay will always be right!
In my work I sit astride various styles and am careless of labels. I have moods and my ideas evolve over time and that is reflected in what I am prepared to work on; you could say that my work is an evolving story and I am curious of what comes next. I experiment, I enjoy my little successes, I learn from setbacks. Starting work is always: will it play ball this time?...
Recently I have been working with equal enthusiasm on abstract sculpture referencing political themes and making functional pots for containing food, plants, seashells, or nothing. I have employed a diversity of different clays and firing methods, finishing techniques and ornamentation. The addition of mixed media is always tempting.
Looking back at 2019, I feel there is a solemn feel to the work, that comes from social themes. Going forward I am looking towards developing a lighter touch, more humour, greater freedom with colour and making the work more about being than about critique or analysis. I am becoming interested in the fundamentals of geometry and its serious cultural resonance in Islam. It is a dream to extract from those natural harmonies a modern roadmap for philosophical thought and embelishment, the enrichment of human experience. An optimistic glance at the future.
How lucky am I to have this amazing opportunity?