Ewen Henderson / Erskine, Hall & Coe, London
May 6 - June 5, 2014
"I fell in love with both the material and the vessel as a magical form; but it was a long time before I realised how I wanted to use it… I was seduced by the alchemy of change where you take a material…and it is transmogrified into something else."
Born in Staffordshire in 1934, Henderson became interested in painting and sculpture while working for a timber company in Cardiff and started attending evening classes at the local art school. In 1964 Henderson began a foundation course at Goldsmiths College in London where he first encountered clay. Later he would study ceramics under, among others, Hans Coper and Lucie Rie, at the Camberwell School of Art. But he always made time to draw and paint. He graduated in 1968 and continued his studies at Edinburgh College of Art before returning to London.
Hendereson very soon left the wheel behind and moved to the freedom of hand-building. Throughout his career he explored clay as a medium in its own right, and said of his work that:
"It explores the significance of what is broken, torn or cut, the ability of single or multiple forms to speak of either compression or expansion, flatness or fullness. It is a kind of drawing in three dimensions. I start with fragments - familiar, found, improvised - and then build up to complex structures that invite the observer to complete the circuit, so to speak, by considering such matters as memory, invention and metaphor."
In parallel with ceramics his passion for painting continued throughout his career, with watercolours, gouaches and collages becoming increasingly inseparable from his ceramics.
Ancient cultures, geological forms and landscapes were persistent influences during his career - Avebury, Eden Valley in Cumbria, the Rollright Stones in north Oxfordshire, Orkney, and Manorbier in Pembrokeshire where he had a home for the last year of his life.
Erskine, Hall & Coe is pleased to present an exhibition of the work of James Tower in February. This will be Tower’s first solo show in London since 1986.
James Tower is one of the most distinguished ceramic artists of the 20th century. His ceramics are unique for their visual effects which suggest that he responded to nature and his environment. He became an established artist in the 1950’s and exhibited alongside such artists as Barbara Hepworth and William Scott. A goal of Tower’s was to achieve a quality in his work that ‘is perhaps best defined as a sense of completion. A longing for a serene harmonious whole which contains dynamism and vitality, satisfying our intellectual and spiritual needs.’ —James Tower
Tower’s work was reminiscent of the world around him. He worked to develop an abstracted style of the natural environment:
There is a sense of water running between rocks, patterns on a butterfly’s wings, spots on a fish’s skin, clouds on a wintery day, stripes on a zebra’s back, ribs of a human chest and the multiple leaves of a compressed succulent in the myriad forms of James’s work. His genius was to synthesise and make of these inspirations in which he delighted things in themselves (excerpt from Anthony Gormley’s introduction in Timothy Wilcox’s book, ‘The Ceramic Art of James Tower’).
Born in Kent in 1919, Tower studied at the Royal Academy, and then at the Slade School of Art, where he discovered an interest in English slipware and became fascinated with ceramics. During the 1960’s and 70’s, he was Head of Pottery at the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, and Head of Sculpture at Brighton Polytechnic.
Tower’s artwork is owned by many public collections throughout the UK and the United States, including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and The Art Institute of Chicago.
The exhibition at Erskine, Hall & Coe will comprise of twenty-five vessels, plates and sculptures, and is fully illustrated on our website. The gallery has worked very closely with James Tower’s family and with Timothy Wilcox, author of the book ‘The Ceramic Art of James Tower,’ to put this exhibition together. Wilcox’s book will be available for purchase at the exhibition.
Matthew Harris & Tim Rowan exhibition / Erskine, Hall & Coe, London
February 20 - March 20, 2013
An exhibition of works on paper by Matthew Harris and ceramics by Tim Rowan.
Matthew Harris’ work on paper has been shown in many group and solo exhibitions throughout the U.K, Europe, Japan and the U.S. As drawings they are made to be seen in their own right but also to act as starting points or ‘cartoons’ for larger works that are made using dyed and painted cloth.
Working primarily from things seen, the drawings recall, interpret and explore imagery, improvising around a given theme. Matthew Harris lives and works in Stroud, Gloucestershire.
Tim Rowan was born in New York City and grew up in Connecticut along the shore of Long Island Sound. His art education began during college, receiving a BFA from The State University of New York at New Paltz before journeying to Japan for 2 years to apprentice with ceramic artist Ryuichi Kakurezaki. Upon his return he worked briefly in studios in Massachusetts and New York before receiving his MFA from The Pennsylvania State University. In 2000 he established his kiln and studio deep in the woods of the Hudson Valley.
"The works in this exhibition have all been completed over the past two years. They are made, primarily, from native clay. This is direct from the earth and unprocessed as opposed to industrially manufactured clay bodies. The forms are slowly constructed from layers, built up over days and weeks then carved. They are fired for seven days and nights in a wood fuelled kiln. No glaze is applied; the surface textures and colours are the result of the interaction of the clay, fly-ash, coals and fire.
I am constantly building on previous work – just as individual pieces evolve in the process of making, the body of work as a whole does as well. Most of my work develops from the process of making, firing, and arranging. While I may have images in my head of some specific things I have seen, for instance the remnants of an old quarry derrick abandoned in the woods near my home, once I start making, new forms emerge. There is a search and discovery.
I am particularly drawn to objects in various states of decay – either through use over time such as tools or the effects of the “elements”. Everything is in a constant state of flux. These are merely markers of a particular time and place.
It is only when I am fully engaged in the making – that the forms present themselves. There is an intuitive process of discovery – of wondering, of noticing, of physically or intellectually feeling the forms. I work on many pieces at once to enable me to become lost in the process - freely moving from one form to another. There is a complete acceptance in the process. Faith. That is the guide. We work together, informing and reacting to each other.
There are four distinct series in this body of work. The sculptures are the most ambiguous and poetic for me. Drawn from a multitude of sources, industrial detritus, tools and abstracting the fragments of a vessel. The vessels are rooted in more of a pottery vernacular. They are there to nourish. We are comforted. We have a sense of place. The cups are individual intimate moments. Each one is a separate story. Held. Caressed. Nourishment. Life-affirming. The boxes may be urns. Shelters. Forced to touch in order to experience the inside. Containment. Security. Protect me. What is revealed?
Ruth Duckworth exhibition / Erskine Hall & Coe, London
September 5 - October 4, 2012
Erskine, Hall & Coe are pleased to announce the exhibition of the celebrated contemporary sculptor, Ruth Duckworth.
The exhibition includes 22 artworks in bronze, porcelain and stoneware. The earliest dates from 1965 but the majority of pieces are from the period of late 1980s through to work completed in the final year of Duckworth’s life. The gallery has been working closely with Thea Burger, who represents the Duckworth Estate.
Writing in her essay to accompany the exhibition Thea Burger states:
“Duckworth was a modernist sculptor who loved form. She was not about colour, but was about the subtle shape of her pieces. Her forms are typically created in porcelain, stoneware, or bronze. Much admired, she has art works in most of the world’s most prestigious museums, including the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Los Angeles Country Museum, the Victoria and Albert, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Tokyo Museum of Art.”
In Ruth Duckworth, Modernist Sculptor written by Jo Lauria and Tony Birks, Duckworth talks of her process of creating a sculpture: Ruth Duckworth Porcelain.
“Play is the essence of creativity. Creative play and gut reaction, instinct. When I work on a piece, I play. I have a whole huge section of the studio where I have an inventory of sculptural forms, simple, abstract, non-specific shapes that I find beautiful and enjoy making. Then I start building these shapes together. And when I find myself smiling, I say “hello!” I think I’ve got something. The process is intuitive, not intellectual. You have to learn to be spontaneous and trust yourself.”
Download the catalogue of the exhibition or view the catalogue online.