JoAnn Axford: Peony box
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.
Katharine Morling is a ceramic artist best known for her life-size black and white sculptures full of quirky, graphic details of domestic objects such as tables, chairs, ladders and lockers. Although she calls herself a ‘3D person’, drawing is very important to Katharine because her sculptures are sketches of furniture items which plays with the viewer’s preconceptions about material and functionality. She crates animated scenes with an unusually dynamic appearance for the medium of ceramics.
The objects can be described as 3 Dimensional drawings, but at first the true nature of the material is not clear: paper or fabric? However, it is clearly ceramic. The eye then re-adjusts within the context of the memories which the material holds. The tactile experience grounds the viewer with the materials solid, cold, hard and fragile reality.
The pieces work together in a tableau staging still lives of everyday objects: table and chairs, tools and cases. Stories start to unravel in the viewer mind: the box that is locked the keys in an open draw. Toys in a case resonate with nostalgia and fantasy. A ladder propped agents a wall suggests that these toys could spring to life and lead an independent existence. A slightly surreal experience is crates when one walks amongst this strange life-sizes tableau.
The monochrome works are mainly porcelain or crank covered in a porcelain slip, before firing a black slip is painted on outlining the works with some details such as a handle or lock painted in.
Cynthia Lahti: NURSE, group of 3
Carole Epp: The bewildered audience
Carole Epp: Cheap shots detail
Jason Walker’s ceramic sculptures offer narrative in both two- and three-dimensional forms. Walker’s painted porcelain tells part of a story depicted also by the object and the actions it may be committing. While the relationship between nature and technology are common themes touched about by Walker, some more recent pieces seem more sociological. Ideologies aside, the sheer skill and technique involved is also worthy of note.
“The culture I live in does not emphasize our physical connection and dependence on nature. The current ideology is reliant upon technology, and it promotes disembodied activity such as television [and] computers… The gap between man-made and natural is ever increasing.
Light bulbs, plugs, power-lines and pipes that grow from the earth are common images found in my work, juxtaposed with birds, insects, and organic matter such as leaves and trees. Similar to the thinking of the Hudson River School of painting, I attempt to portray nature’s vastness and human-kind as a small proponent of it. Yet I draw the small things of nature large and the huge creations of man small. I want to show how we influence the landscape, or nature. My ideas stem from my own experiences bicycle touring, backpacking and the daily hikes I take with my dog.” Jason Walker
Natalia Dias: Transfiguration II, 2011, porcelain, 13x42x42cm
Bethany Krull: Stag vs. Hercules, 2010, porcelain, “apoxie sculpt” wood, rubber tubing, 9”H x 24”W x 24”D
Overthrown: Benjamin DeMott, Untitled Thumbnail, porcelain, paint, glue, glaze, gum, 2011, H 6” x W 9” x D 7”. Photo by Jeff Wells. #2
Overthrown: Benjamin DeMott, Untitled Thumbnail, porcelain, paint, glue, glaze, gum, 2011, H 6” x W 9” x D 7”. Photo by Jeff Wells.