6th - 12th April
Introducing IN CLA.Y
IN CLA.Y is a group of five ceramicists based in the Cheltenham and Gloucester area plus one interloper from Worcestershire. We have a shared interest in ceramic applied arts and have, initially, been brought together to exhibit our work at Sixteen Gallery in Cheltenham in April 2023. We sense that this collaboration is a starting point from which we may be able to learn from one another's diverse practise.
Our work ranges from figurative sculpture through to medium and small scale clay vessels, from monotone to colourful, from controlled to free, from thought provoking to challenging. We hope, that by juxtaposing these varying stylesand approaches, this will make for a vibrant and interesting show.
Please come along and visit us, we'd love to see you!
IN CLA.Y are Molly Abbott, Peter Garrard, Sam Lucas, Jo Millar and David Wright
Who We Are
After graduating from Stoke on Trent, Molly obtained her teaching qualification and taught Art and Ceramics for 13 years. She then taught English in Indonesia, Italy and Ireland over the next ten years, before returning to the UK and settling in Cheltenham, still teaching. She has had her own workshop since then and found or made time to return to her love of making with clay. She regained her skills making domestic ware and gradually developed her practice into a more sculptural approach - harking back to her college days. Her references have always been the natural world, and that continues, though she occasionally uses architecture as a starting point. She is also interested in shape - distorting or bending forms to achieve something less familiar. Any decoration must truly feel part of the piece and not an add on. Molly uses white clays, which provide the ground for the addition of colour, pattern and texture. On the surfaces of her pieces she applies coloured slips and oxides, together with man-made colourants, to work with the textures. Together these interact with the transparent glaze, which is applied for the second firing giving a high glossy and inviting finish.
Peter Garrard gained a Ist class honours degree in Three Dimensional design from Manchester Poly and studied Ceramics at Alfred University, NY state, before gaining a PGCE from Cardiff University during the 1980’s. He taught ceramics and art in Cheltenham for 24 years and has since taught ceramics classes from his studio in Gloucester. Peter has always found time to make his own work and over the years his style and interests have evolved. Inspired by his Lockdown experience, he started to look inwards more and felt the need to make his work more personal and meaningful tohimself and, as a result, started to focus on the male form and his gay identity. For the last few years he has used Contrapposto and texture as a way to express angst in his figure sculptures, whilst his panels playfully focus on the joys of gay sexuality.
Sam has chosen not to take the commercial route, as she does not make pretty things. Her work has always been auto ethnographic, drawing on her own personal experience, and how to explore difficult issues, with a dark humour. She will utilise this space as a testing ground for some of her research ideas, with the hope that it may encourage a response from the viewer, whether negative or positive. In these raw unfinished pieces, she is exploring social anxiety. she describes her practice as ‘more about being than being seen’ and ‘the weight and awkwardness of being in a body’. Her PhD research will be exploring the lived experience of a small selection of the self-advocating neurodiverse population. She will be focusing on whether creativity, particularly with clay can help manage some of the coexisting symptoms and comorbidities that come with a neurodevelopmental condition. The eventual aim, in her own small way is to make seen the unseen concerning this invisible disability and to break down some of the stigma and preconceived ideas around it, hoping to help create more positive view.
Sam Lucas is an artist who works predominantly in clay, after receiving a distinction for her MA in ceramics in 2018 she was selected for Rising Stars and New Designers at The Business Design Centre in London, RAW at Mint Gallery as part London Design Festival. However, her highlights were being selected for AWARD the headlining exhibition at British Ceramics Biennial 2019 and this work was exhibited with Taste Contemporary Gallery at Art Geneve 2020 and, later in the year, the Crafts Council Hothouse Programme. In 2021 she began undertaking a part time practice-based PhD at Sunderland University. She does not make pretty things and the work shown here is work in progress, exploring the idea of being in the body and social awkwardness, she describes them as, ‘more about being than being seen’ exploring the human condition. If you would like to be a part of Sam's research, follow @theweightofbeing and follow the instructions #mybodyinmyhands #exploringtheneurodiversebody on Instagram
Based in Cheltenham, Jo graduated from Bath Spa University in 1995 and in 1996 gained her PGCE from Oxford University. Alongside her art she has carved a very successful teaching career and currently leads the Art department in a prestigious independent school. Hand-building with white or black stoneware clays, her sculptural ceramics are almost always formed in response to nature, plant or human, her inspiration and interest in natural form and the Ancients clearly visible. Her ceramics can resemble swollen seedpods, shells and organic shapes, soft and sinuous in contour, occasionally more confrontational in stance and detail, more human, with spikes or sharp nodules or vertebrae.
Within this exhibition, Jo has selected a new body of work inspired by recent travels in India. Some sculptures are finished with 24 carat gold or platinum. My sculptural pieces seen here are outcomes inspired by my recent visit to India. I discovered a hunger for the peeling history seen beneath layers and layers of paint and decoration on walls, doorways and motor vehicles. The spires on the elephant back rooftops of the palaces, of which I visited many including Agra Fort and Bundi Palace, most built between 400 and 500 years ago, captivated me by their tiny points of contact as they reached to the bright blue skies. Murals in rich turquoises and jewel reds, greens and shimmering golds, provided me with visual feasts every day. Street food and the ritual pleasure I witnessed in its making, the chai wallah with their pride and clear enjoyment of my enjoyment of their work, gave me wonderful memories. This ceramic work is in response to my budding love affair with beautiful India.
Her useable ceramics, not exhibited, are highly decorative functional pieces which bring an exquisite pleasure and decadence to the ritual of meal times and coffee breaks.
William Morris famously said that you shouldn't have anything in your house that wasn't useful or you believed to be beautiful. This set Arts and Crafters from Cumbria to Cornwall creating copper chargers and pewter pitchers in increasing sizes, but there is only so much room in your average house or small flat for these. David Wright follows a different aesthetic, one from the previous century.
In the 18th century, Gentlemen (and some Ladies), in order to display their taste and discernment carried in their pockets small objects known as toys, snuffboxes, vinaigrettes, small globes, useful or not they were to be seen. Usually made of diver or other precious materials they coincided with the height of the Rococo period. The Headless Cross Potter makes ceramic toys. His forms are to be found in the work of Sevres and Limoges but he is a very painterly potter and his palette reflects this period, his pinks from Boucher, lilacs from Fragonard, greens from Lancret. David Wright doesn't decorate his pots with shepherds or goddesses but inscribes the clay with disguised script Cy Twombly style which he covers with metallic oxides and coloured slips like lost love left bound with bronzed bands, in effect a post-modern take on the Rococo. Madame de Pompadour would be collecting them now.
Morris might frown at their lack of functionality but would applaud their beauty.
Trevor Wood MBE FRSA
Originally hailing from Cleethorpes in North East Lincolnshire, David moved to the West Midlands to study for a degree in ceramics at Wolverhampton Polytechnic in the 1980’s, gaining first class honours. Subsequently he went on to achieve an MA(RCA) in Ceramics & Glass from the Royal College of Art in 1992. Following this, David returned to the West Midlands to pursue a PGCE in secondary Design & Technology from Wolverhampton University. A 27 year teaching career followed, where David spent many of those years as a Faculty Head. Now retired, he is revisiting his love of ceramics in order to carry out unfinished business with clay. David currently produces one-off, small scale, decorative vessels in earthenware, stoneware and raku. He has lived in Worcestershire since 1994.