Shane Porter

Shane Porter's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

Read the interview with Shane Porter, Spotlight - May 2011

“My current practice explores the role and function of the vessel within ritual theory and practice. The Vessel contains and protects liquid which during the mass is transubstantiated from wine to the literal blood of Christ. I seek to convey feelings of silence, reflection and reverence by abstracting and subverting religious connotations and metaphors, referencing my uncertainty.” Shane Porter

Shane Porter graduated from the University of Ulster in 2010 with a 1st Class Honours degree in Fine and Applied Art.

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Jennifer McCurdy

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Ceramic artist Jennifer McCurdy lives on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.  She has been working with porcelain for over twenty five years. For the last few years, she has been working with structural questions. How thin can the high fire porcelain be before it collapses in the fire? How much can it be cut away and still maintain structural integrity? How can the structural form be integrated with the visual, as in nature? How can the movement of the potter’s wheel and the fire of the kiln be reflected in the finished piece, which is rock-hard and permanent? 

“Emotion fills me when I see perfect forms in nature, from the cracked conch shell on the beach revealing its perfect spiral, to the milkweed pod burst in the field, its brilliant airborne seeds streaming into the sunlight. The ordered symmetry and asymmetry of nature’s forms reveal the growth of life, the movement of life.

Living on Martha’s Vineyard, island time, especially in the winter, seems to conform to nature’s cycles. As a potter, I strive to make my work reflect the balance of life around me. It is important that the patterns I see around me are integrated into my forms.” Jennifer McCurdy

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Yoichiro Kamei

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Born in 1974 in Kagawa Prefecture, Japan, Yoichiro Kamei is one of the most appreciated young ceramic artists. With more than 10 solo exhibitions had in the past ten years - in Kyoto, Tokyo, Aichi, Osaka and Faenza, he was awarded Merit Prize at the 1st Taiwan International Ceramics Biennale in 2004.

In 2010 he received the Kyoto City Artist Prize, which is one of the most valuable Japanese art awards.

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Debbie Quick

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“I am a storyteller. Or at least I’ve wanted to be one for as long as I can remember; yet, the verbal telling of situations is not how my mind works. Instead, I physically construct my stories which speak of emotional interactions and reactions experienced during intense social exchanges. Just as social interactions are layered, having a number of interpretations, visual information leads to a multitude of possible understandings as well.  This is why the idiom “A picture is worth a thousand words” describes how I choose to create narratives. Having more than one interpretation of an experience is why I desire to pack multilayered thoughts into every thing I make. Through exploring these concerns I attempt to communicate the numerous nuances of emotion weathered during awkward social exchanges.

I watch. I love to watch. I draw inspiration from the watching. I collect awkward exchanges between people and then sculpt them into stories. My narratives visually speak of uncomfortable social interactions and the intensity of feeling born out of them. The pieces I build depict the slippery quality of emotional intelligence and how it seems to elude explanation. Since there is often more than one side to a story and no singular truth to a situation, my pieces are stuck at the point of experiencing and contemplating uncomfortable and irresolvable situations. I explore the pain and discomfort of social interactions through the visual narratives I make.” Debbie Quick

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Ian F. Thomas

Ian F. Thomas' profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

“I have been making art objects for most of my life and I have found that I have a greater understanding of my work after making it.  There is a mystery to things that people make.  I choose the process of art-making as a medium to pose questions about my relationships with (art) objects, people and myself.  Each time I start a work, regardless of the known impetus, the content of the work changes into something I didn’t previously know.  I have been enjoying this unpredictability, lending my creative process to my intuition.

In the spectrum of communication I find making objects to be an efficient vehicle. I find myself engaged with object making in a similar way a writer is engaged with text. For me, objects and their relationship with their surroundings manifest into a language in itself. As in the installation  “Weather Underground” I was interested in the site-specificity of the space I was working in, which used to be a classroom.  Working in an intuitive mode without an intended outcome, I knew the materials I wanted to use and allowed the piece to develop through me.  It was not until later that I came to the realization that the work was about me revisiting my own experiences of academia. 

I have considered my work to be a window into my subconscious. After completing this work, it allowed me to question the original idea, the process of making it and the actual outcome, and through the work I am able to gain a better understand of its possible meaning and message.  The practice of art is now a renewed engagement with my personal history.  The visceral understanding that it grants my senses is as pleasurable as the beauty of the produced object.  It is not my intent for the view to grasp these specific notions but to come to the work with their personal histories and to derive a visceral understanding through their senses.” Ian F. Thomas

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John Shirley

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Read the interview with John Shirley, Ceramic Technique / Soluble salts - April 2011

“Born in South Africa in 1948, I have been working in ceramics since 1970. Having always been drawn to its translucent and ethereal qualities I worked mainly in porcelain for a number of years. My current work is in Bone China which due to its exceptional translucency seems to be the perfect material for the expression of my ideas. The work is decorated with a combination of wax resist and soluble metallic salts, which permeate the body and create a ‘watercolor’ effect.

Early in 2000 I was employed at the TWR (now University of Johannesburg) and I enrolled for my B Tech Ceramic Design. It was during this period that my experimentation with bone china began, and I produced a body of extreme whiteness with excellent translucency. My early work in bone china was pierced and sandblasted. On completion of my B Tech, for which I gained a distinction in ceramic practice, I started exploring and using soluble salts.

This still occupies me today and it seems that after all the experimentation I am finally making  the work I want to be making. I find the soluble salts to be so different to the  oxides with which one usually colours ceramics, not only  their subtlety but also the way they gently permeate the surface of the work creating a watercolour effect. For this work I have garnered several accolades. Two of the most important of these being; in 2008 I won an award of merit at the Corobrick National Ceramics Biennale held in Johannesburg, South Africa, and I was honored to have a piece of work selected for the 5th World Ceramic Biennale, in Korea 2009.” John Shirley

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Grayson Perry

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Grayson Perry (born in 1960) is an English artist, known mainly for his ceramic vases and cross-dressing. He works in several media. Perry’s vases have classical forms and are decorated in bright colours, depicting subjects at odds with their attractive appearance, e.g. child abuse and sado-masochism. There is a strong autobiographical element in his work, in which images of Perry as “Claire”, his female alter-ego, often appear. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 2003 for his ceramics, receiving the prize dressed as Claire.

Perry’s work refers to several ceramic traditions, including Greek pottery and folk art. He has said, “I like the whole iconography of pottery. It hasn’t got any big pretensions to being great public works of art, and no matter how brash a statement I make, on a pot it will always have certain humility… For me the shape has to be classical invisible: then you’ve got a base that people can understand”. His vessels are made by coiling, a traditional method. Most have a complex surface employing many techniques, including “glazing, incision, embossing, and the use of photographic transfers”, which requires several firings. To some he adds sprigs, little relief sculptures stuck to the surface. The high degree of skill required by his ceramics and their complexity distances them from craft pottery. It has been said that these methods are not used for decorative effect but to give meaning. Perry challenges the idea, implicit in the craft tradition, that pottery is merely decorative or utilitarian and cannot express ideas.

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Vivika and Otto Heino

Vivika and Otto Heino's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View their works

Vivika and Otto Heino collaborated from 1950 until 1995, the year of Vivika’s death. Their work is distinguished by its clean lines and distinctive glazes. Despite getting under way during the Depression, the Heinos supported themselves as potters throughout their careers. Their world was guided by a strong work ethic and a love of clay. Unfazed by ceramic trends, they remained true to their sense of what pottery should be—traditional and utilitarian.

Otto and Vivika were part of a generation that sought to redefine the art of ceramics in relation to modern art and culture. The “potters,” as the Heinos and their contemporaries were proud to be called, were influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement, Germany’s Bauhaus, and the potters of Japan.

Otto and Vivika’s work is collected world-wide and has been exhibited internationally at the Picasso Museum in Vallauris, France; San Francisco’s De Young Museum; Los Angeles’ County Art Museum and Craft Folk Art Museum; New York’ American Craft Museum; Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian’ and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Twentieth Century Fox commissioned them to create 751 pieces of pottery for the film, “The Egyptian.”

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Georges Jeanclos

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The passionate and powerful figurative sculpture of the late Georges Jeanclos evokes emotion through a mastery of materials. Anguished and full of pathos, the works have an immediate and provocative poignancy. Their faces and postures show an extraordinary sense of tragic human experience; yet retain a tender beauty by the deft use of the sculptor’s chosen medium, a thin gray terra cotta.

Georges Jeanclos once said that the largest influences on his work were World War II, his apprenticeship to a sculptor, and his discovery of Etruscan art. There were tragedies in the artist’s biography that also had effect on the work. Central among those was his experience of hiding with his Jewish family during the Nazi occupation. During 1943, when he was 10 years old, his family fled the village where they had been hiding and lived in the forest near Vichy for a year to escape the Gestapo.

Jeanclos was often quoted regarding the use of the medium; for him the undecorated gray terra cotta was ideal for expressing the fragility of life. The thin clay shrouds the body and often carries fragments of words from the Psalms, the Song of Songs, or the Kaddish.

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Daniel Kavanagh

Daniel Kavanagh's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

“Forms are classical yet contemporary defined by crisp elegant lines and flowing shapes; inspired by ancient Greek pottery and Japanese as well as the art and architecture of South East Asia. The Highland landscape is a constant, ever changing influence in my work, drawing inspiration from the light, space and reflective qualities this vast landscape offers.

Contrast is an important aspect to my work the interplay between control and unpredictability, traditional and contemporary, solid but with a feeling of lightness. Despite these contrasting qualities I always aspire to create something that is both beautiful and complete. I enjoy the interplay of more organic and fortuitous surfaces applied to these controlled forms which create a distinct finish to the work. Work that combines ceramic and bronze materials provide an innovative exploration of the two mediums I am most passionate about. I am beginning to explore the experience of how a thrown form can then be adapted to become a piece of sculpture in its own right.” Daniel Kavanagh

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Nagae Shigekazu

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Nagae Shigekazu (born in 1953), is one of the leading pioneers of porcelain casting and firing techniques in Japan. Casting is commonly associated with the mass production of porcelain, yet Nagae valiantly transcends this stereotype, ultimately elevating this technique to the avant-garde. Casting alone cannot achieve the natural movements found within Nagae’s forms. In fact, the intensity of his gas-kiln fires help mould, shape and curve his delicate white porcelain, thereby giving birth to sleek and razor-thin silhouettes that have become Nagae trademarks.

His popularity and recognition as an artist have skyrocketed, with acquisitions by the V&A in London, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Australia in just the past 3 years. Also collected by leading institutions such as the Musée National de Ceramique-Sèvres in Paris and the Musée Ariana in Geneva, among others, as well as receiving prestigious awards such as the Grand Prixs at the 1998 Triennale de la Porcelain in Nyon, the Mino Ceramic Festival and the Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition (both 1997), Nagae Shigekazu’s stature and respect in the world of porcelain has reached new heights.

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Matthew Chambers

Matthew Chambers' profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

“I make sculpture that is born from the potters wheel.  Many sections are thrown and built to create a constructed beauty, rhythm, and symmetry in abstract form. I am interested in the travel and progression of layered three dimensional pattern, and how this can create different qualities depending on the workings of three essential factors:
- The construction: Simplicity to complexity. Circular or fragmented.
- The rhythm pattern: Different rhythms produced through the construction and the placement of parts.
- The viewing position and depth in form: Horizontal, vertical or angular. Inside space or enclosed rhythm.” Matthew Chambers

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Tim Andrews

Tim Andrews' profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

“My work is really about form and surface. The pieces are non-functional and have to ‘justify their existence’ by imparting a ‘presence’ - does it have life; does it sing? Elusive qualities but worth striving for when everything comes together.” Tim Andrews

The pieces are usually thrown, although recent pieces are handbuilt. Bisque-firing is in a conventional gas kiln to 1060 degrees Celcius. Many pieces have a ‘resist’ slip and glaze applied and are then fired in a ‘top hat’ glass-fibre kiln to around 1000 degrees Celcius, before removal when red-hot to a smoking chamber. When cold the resist glaze is chipped off and the pot cleaned up and waxed.

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Claire Muckian

Claire Muckian's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

“Lying somewhere between contemporary ceramics and sculpture, my work presents a hybrid of both disciplines.

Currently, the work centres on obscure, hidden and uncontrolled spaces that arise through the ceramic making process. I construct using fine hand-building techniques such as pinching and coiling to form thin walls. By making in this way, interesting spaces present themselves, whilst also highlighting the dialogue between the interior and exterior. Lattice-work (alternating bands of supports and rows) enables me to construct delicate structures that are at once open and closed. Often, I use motifs to denote meaning.

Materially, I use a variety of different clays such as porcelain, terracotta and stoneware clays. In particular, I enjoy using porcelain, which I exploit for its delicacy and translucence. Sometimes I introduce a variety of mixed media such as wax. Works range in scale from the intimate to large scale.

I strive towards the qualities of anonymous art. Paring back to pure, multi-referencing and ambiguous elements, I draw influence from concentrated forms such as menhirs, circles and lozenges. Abstract, yet familiar, these are objects that appeal to the archaic content of the mind where the viewer might approach some form of recognition.” Claire Muckian

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Adam Frew

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Adam is a story teller, sometimes intuitively, always spontaneously, and this reveals itself in his work.  The white porcelain is a perfect ground for the inky cobalt drawings which decorate his pots. Some imagery is restrained to the simplicity of a single line and other images depict busy narratives. Simple sprigs reminiscent of wax seals from a bygone era embellish some of the surfaces.

“It is important that there is a flow in my work and if I loose that flow, I loose the energy. My work is an ongoing journey”. Adam Frew

‘The nature of Adam’s ceramic pots allows the owner to continually revisit their purchase, gaining pleasure from seeing new and wonderful things in its quirky decoration.’ Kim Mawhinney, Head of Art. Ulster Museum

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