A View of Clay
There is nothing casual in the process of choosing a thread through the plethora of current ceramic work. It is a wonderful opportunity, fraught with tension, to be given the chance as guest curator /potter in this 50th anniversary year to offer a view of ceramic possibilities.
At the outset of selecting an exhibition most of the works are still to be made and you need a core group of makers whose creative past you believe in. there is no way of being completely sure whether the pieces that come into being will jointly make a coherent statement or fight with each other. It is a risk, and also hopefully a surprise, how things come together in an actual space. I have opted for a kind of narrative, or diary, in my selection. My thread runs back to the 1960’s; people who taught me, fellow students, people I have taught and people that I have never worked with but who reveal more of the map by which I make sense of ceramic culture. All of them I admire for their feeling for clay, as body and surface.
The oldest and the youngest of my contributors encompass two clear alternatives to British pottery’s Anglo-Oriental taproot. Newland who began exhibiting in the 1950’s and responded much more to Picasso than to leach; and Oyekan, who learnt to make pots in Britain with an African sense of connectedness of form and meaning. Hanseen Pigott and Bowen have some of leach’s thinking as the basis for what they do, and have made entirely fresh work with it. All have acquired their own clay language –drawing on and with form, containing, secreting, playing around with colour, sheen, mass and hollowness. Baldwin, Poncelet, Slee, Eglin, and the others, show what a diverse and satisfyingly fictive world ceramics can be.
Alison Britton 1998
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