“The flowers of the woodlands and gardens of my upstate New York home are the subjects of my work. The intricate beauty in nature compels me to employ a complex process to translate this to the surface of my pots. I choose to use porcelain because it is the most pure of clays and when left unglazed and polished , an enticingly smooth rich surface is revealed. I began carving my porcelain forms during graduate studies at Skidmore College with Leslie Ferst and Regis Brodie. I continued my exploration of floral forms and structures by pursuing postgraduate study in botanical illustration at The New York Botanical Gardens. I create the bas-relief botanical images by carving into the leather hard wheel thrown porcelain pot. It is a process that can take more than one hundred hours. Each piece is hand polished after the first firing, the bisque, and again after the final high temperature firing to achieve the smooth marble like sheen.
My pots are my response to the natural world and my wish for its preservation. I strive to record the resiliency of nature in the bas-relief botanical images. I attempt also to capture the delicacy and fragility of the blossoms that will ironically be outlived by my pots
As objects of contemplation, it is my hope that my pots will celebrate the beauty and strength of nature and encourage its preservation.” JoAnn Axford
In addition to teaching at both the college and community arts levels, JoAnn has exhibited extensively in juried exhibits throughout the United States, including The Strictly Functional Pottery National, Crafts National, and San Angelo National Ceramic Competition. She was recognized as an Emerging Artist by Ceramics Monthly magazine in 2006. Her work has been published In Clay Times Magazine, Surface Design for Ceramics by Maureen Mills, Lark Books, and 500 Raku by Lark Books.
“After many years spent in writing, painting and etching , using reams of paper, I ended up working with porcelain. Although I like making “normal” cups and plates, tiles with fishes, birds and fountains, I like to experiment constantly and than, somehow, I find myself using the material like paper or trying to make it look like paper; printed on, incised and folded. I am fascinated by the fragility but also the strength of this ceramic material and, perhaps due to the history of my journey through the world of art, I love to transfer the qualities of paper to this material to resemble paper, crumpled. covered with writing and folded, exploiting its transparency, its different surface qualities, its capacity to catch and preserve colors on the inside as well as on the outside , underneath and over its glossy, satin or mat skin. I stretch it, paint it, fold it, going to the limits of its strength, fragility and transparency. And it often leaves me in desperation because of its fragility. It leaves me breathless with the feeling of happiness to see its fragile intensity.
For years I worked as an artist in the BKR, the Dutch Government Work agreement for artists before going abroad with my husband and three boys. At the same time I studied biology and philosophy at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands and followed etching courses in Amsterdam, bronze casting (lost wax) in Wageningen [with Ben Joosten] drawing from models at the Art Academy Minerva in Groningen.
My work (ceramics, etchings, paintings, art books, photographs) is displayed in various public places in Netherland, Spain, Chile, Korea, Australia, Portugal and Italy. I published poetry, short stories and translations on the literary review “Hollands Maandblad“ Poetry was published by Cadans as ‘Carthago in het Middaglicht’.
I currently live and work near Milan (Italy).” Margrieta Jeltema
David Roberts is one of the most significant ceramic artists working in Europe today. A distinguished English potter, he has an international reputation as a leading practitioner in Raku ceramics: a technique with its origin in small-scale vessels made for the Tea Ceremony in late sixteenth-century Japan. Roberts is acknowledged as responsible for the introduction and promotion of modern, large scale Raku in Europe. He has also been instrumental in its re-introduction to the United States of America, where his example has played a key role in the foundation of the ‘Naked Raku’ movement. In his personal exploration of this traditional technique, Roberts has transformed it into a vibrant and contemporary art form.
David Roberts is one of the first British ceramists to specialise in high quality contemporary Raku, the making of which he has helped popularise, as a serious discipline within contemporary British ceramics in the many exhibitions, workshops and demonstrations he has held throughout the UK, Europe and the USA. His work investigates the clay bodies interaction with smoke-marking and deep carbonisation. The resulting vessels are strongly evocative of David’s increasing engagement with the natural world and the contours and stratification of stone and landscape.
David Roberts lives and works in the Yorkshire Pennine mill town of Holmfirth.
“I have worked with the theme of the vessel for some time now, developing it as an object beyond normal usage. My idea of a vessel is not simply as a working piece of apparatus but as an object which expresses raw energy and power. It is not an academic exercise in imitating the historical past. I am interested in the ceramic ‘architecture’ of an object, and in my work a sense of engineering the form is crucial. When I am in the studio I think of the object in simple terms; its surface, colour, scale and the promise of something elegant and beautiful at the finish. There is also an underlying sense of the erotic…” Abigail Simpson
Abigail Simpson was born in London and originally trained as an actor before going on to study ceramics. Her work has been exhibited extensively in Britain. Simpson’s latest enterprise is an installation of 15 vessels currently being shown at Ralph Pucci International showroom in Manhattan. Simpson’s large ceramic vessels and ‘Bobble pots’, which have become her trade mark, are painstakingly constructed by hand from stoneware clay using giant coils. The pieces are then fired in her purpose built kiln to 1280 degrees centigrade.
Each piece is unique and has a character of its own. The only constant is the extraordinary scale - the vessels are can be up to 7 feet in height. Her aim is to break free from the limitations and expectations of ‘pottery’, drawing her inspiration primarily from architecture, art and fashion. Her vessels can be described as both voluptuous and glamorous and her training as an actress might be deduced from the sheer theatricality of these large vessels. Abigail Simpson’s work has been featured in most of the major interior and fashion magazines as well as being catalogued by Christies in two ‘Contemporary and Post-War British Art’ auctions. Buyers include Annie Lennox and Donna Karan.
“In each stage of the processes of my creating, new ideas and concepts seem to reveal themselves, bringing a new life to my work. Working devoutly in clay, I continue to be challenged and seduced by the medium. The manipulation of the material is what excites me, whether I am working big or small, loosely or precisely.
Interior and exterior spaces are primary oppositions that I use in my work both formally and conceptually. Using animal forms as a subjects for my process and vehicles for my content, I am able to address these spaces literally and metaphorically. The animal form allows me to juxtapose other distinct opposites such as life and death, positive and negative. I feel that through this synthesis I am presenting questions and concerns which are not necessarily answered in the work.
Recently, I am interested in creating forms or sculptures through the use of multiples. The multiples I am using are specifically segments of animals made with both hand-built and mold made forms. By fragmenting and stacking them, I am trying to obscure the initial subject and capture the evidence of a space and motion. I work and build both intuitively and analytically in an attempt to contrast these formal characteristics and to push my concepts.” Dryden Wells
Dryden Wells, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, first completed a BFA in Ceramics and a BSED (K-12) at Missouri State University in Springfield, MO. In the Fall of 2005, Wells moved to Lubbock, Texas, to pursue an MFA degree in Ceramics at Texas Tech University, which he completed Spring of 2008. Wells, having previously been a resident artist at the Pottery Workshop: An Experimental Sculpture Factory in Jingdezhen, China, during the summers of 2006 and 2007, has recently been hired as the Design Studio Manager of The Pottery Workshop to assist in the maintenance and development of the Design Studio as well as to continue the development of his own work.
“My goal is to create works of art that resonate with honesty and reflect the beauty and chaos of the world. My art is influenced by human artifacts from ancient times to the present, as well as by my personal experiences and emotions. Like the varied objects I draw on for inspiration—from 1940s knitting catalogs and outsider art, to Native American cedar carvings and Degas’ sculptures of dancers—my artworks force an explanation of reality and compel viewers to connect to a larger human experience. I work in various media, including drawing, collage, and sculpture.
Currently I am focusing on ceramic sculpture based on expressive images of the figure I find in a variety of source materials. There are so many figures out there in the world, wearing so many poses and costumes; I find those that resonate and interpret them in clay. Each sculpture expresses an intense inner psychological state, its surface effecting a fluctuating quality, part beautiful, part grotesque.
I grew up in Portland, Oregon and continue to live and work here.” Cynthia Lahti
Carole Epp is a Canadian ceramic artist and writer, who received her Masters Degree in Ceramics from the Australian National University. Her ceramics branch off into two distinct bodies of work wherein she produces lines of sculptural and functional objects. Her sculptural based work incorporates the production of collectible figurines whose traditional genre is subverted by revealing a more truthful representation of behaviour and morality in contemporary society. An analysis of consumer culture is unveiled and dialogue is presented regarding the personal relationship one has with global events and politics. The functional domestic wares investigate contemporary industrial design aesthetics and their sustainability through handmade qualities, including what has traditionally been deemed glaze-faults, in combination with the clean and calculated look of mass-produced wares.
Her work has been exhibited in Canada, Scotland, Australia and the United States. Her artwork and writing has also been published in the past few years in magazine publications, websites and books. She is editor of Musing About Mud an online blog which showcases information, calls for entry, exhibitions and artist profiles related to the ceramic arts.
Blaine’s work has been exhibited nationally in several solo and group gallery exhibitions exhibitions, like the “Strictly Functional National” in Lancaster Pennsylvania, NC State Craft Center’s “From These Hands” in Raleigh, NC. His work can be seen in publications such as Ceramics Monthly and Lark Books’ 500 Bowls and Ceramics for Beginners: Surfaces, Glazes & Firing. Along with private and corporate collections, his work is included in the permanent collection of the Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC.
Blaine Avery has been a studio potter since 1991. He took a position apprenticing with Sid Oakley at Cedar Creek Gallery in Creedmoor, NC. After a year under Sid’s direction, Blaine stayed on at Cedar Creek, renting studio space as a resident artist, and selling his work through the gallery, along with other galleries throughout the southeast. In 2002, Blaine moved to Seagrove, NC to open his own retail gallery and studio, Avery Pottery & Tileworks. Today, Blaine sells his work primarily through his gallery, through select craft galleries and fine craft shows.
“Inspired by an amalgamation of ancient cultures, the gestural surface decorations on my work are applied with porcelain slip and under glazes at the green stage of the process. Layering the slip designs underneath the glaze creates a greater sense of depth that accentuates the contours of the forms. Pattern, rhythm, imagery and color are all used to complete the form, which is grounded in the bold and refined characteristics of traditional southern pottery.” Blaine Avery
“In my work, a tangible place exists where the fields of art making, weapons manufacturing and scientific research converge. This latest work is composed of these subjects existing in the same atmosphere, constantly crossing and colliding with one another as if part of the same charged electron cloud. This work as an endless equation of variables, values, formulae and solutions. Like the system and language of chemistry, these subjects are always around us and the characters, materials and scenarios of this equation and chain reaction are in constant motion.
In an effort to reflect on the early presence that these subjects have in our lives, this connectivity is expressed through a language specific to childhood and is punctuated with objects that reference my early education and play. The childish language in this work comments on two conclusions that stoke the fires of my work; the omnipresent nature of science in our daily lives and the similarity between objects used to discover and nurture and those used to destroy and capitalize.
I see this work as a mechanism to evaluate conflict as the direct result of two kinds of perennial human activities: misunderstanding – willful or otherwise – and the heroic yet flawed effort to understand through research and classification. The activities in my work show the nature of human relationships as seen through the lenses of our societies researchers and artists.” Ian Shelly
“My work in clay has been a succession/evolution of ideas over a thirty year period. I take certain elements that “work” in one series and often build the next series based on those elements. That could include the color of the clay body, the colors of the surface treatment, the texture of the surface, the form or the building technique.
I enjoy working with the idea in mind of smaller parts making up the whole. Tiles covering a wall. Vessels made with coil and brick-like pieces, or cut and torn clay parts that make a vessel look basket-like. The vessel form appeals to me on a level that I don’t understand. It is a sort of mystery. When I am out in the world and see such a form I am immediately drawn to it. As much as I am concerned with surface texture it is ultimately the simple form of a vessel that appeals to my eye.
I would like to think my work, and the act of making the work, connects me with past cultures who used the same materials to make vessels for ceremony or everyday use. I like the idea of being a part of the long history of people making things with their hands.” Jim Kraft