On the Surface: Contemporary Ceramics

6 February – 19 April 2009

Blackwell brings together six individual contemporary ceramicists whose work makes a statement through its surface decoration. From the pictorial to the abstract, from transfer printing to slip-trailing, the collective work of these makers encompasses an enlightening breadth of vision and technique.

Sara Moorhouse looks at how spaces within landscape are altered depending on the changing seasons. The bowls act as a canvas for paintings that distil aspects of landscape, altering the size and shape of the form by their colour. Bowls can be made to seem wider or narrower, deeper or shallower or they may appear to undulate, move or hover by the juxtaposition of finer lines.

A very different sense of place is found in Annabel Faraday’s vessel forms onto which fragments of street maps and images are printed when the clay is raw. Annabel uses a unique method to print onto raw craft crank clay which has been painted with coloured slips. The pots are then hand built and fired, producing a slightly raised metalicised image.

The key source of inspiration in the work of Cardiff-based Lowri Davies is her Welsh heritage. Using handbuilt and slip-cast techniques to create vessels and objects, Lowri decorates them with her own illustrations of flowers, domestic objects and familiar Welsh imagery, referencing china displays on Welsh dressers and the ceramic souvenirs that evoke childhood summer holidays.

Helen Beard’s work combines sketches recalling everyday life with simple domestic pots made from white porcelain clay, which she draws directly onto. The forms of pots and the style of illustrations complement one another sympathetically - both are fluid and spontaneous; each slightly naïve, with its own individual narrative and a character of its own, some whimsical, some cheeky, some nostalgic.

Sarah Dunstan makes sculptural ceramics; working at the surface of flat sheets of clay using painting and printing techniques until she achieves an instinctive sense of ‘rightness’. She then constructs vessels from them, giving the compositionthat began as flat designs a new dimension.

Adam Frew makes functional pots and large expressive vessels, marking and drawing onto the porcelain clay whilst it is still wet to produce ceramics which are an idiosyncratic fusion of skill and chance. In some examples the decoration is taken to its limits and the surface is covered in marks, drips and splashes of pigment, whilst with others it is restrained to the simplicity of a single line. Adam is currently artist in residence at Flowerfield Arts Centre in Northern Ireland.

Supported by - Arts Council England

Image - Adam Frew, Lidded Jars, porcelain © Glen Norwood
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