5th November 2016 - 7th January 2017
A diverse range of contemporary ceramics, wood, wire, textiles and works in mixed media are brought together in this exceptional front of house Christmas exhibition. Techniques and processes are explored and stories are told as we bring the best of contemporary craft to visitors of Leeds.
Jane is an artist living and working on the edge of the Pennines in Yorkshire. She works with Paper Mache and mixed media to create a range of small sculptures, wall pieces and vessels; inspired by the shapes, lines and textures of the harsh, weather scoured landscape around her home. Jane has sold her figurative work in galleries throughout the country for many years, including The Craft Centre and Design Gallery, but this new work is more abstract and inspired by the natural world. Jane keeps the use of colour to a minimum to concentrate on the textures, lines and tones; particularly the wearing away of layers and revealing of sub layers, as the weather does to the land. Some of the wall sculptures can be vessels, with the incorporation of small found objects such as dried seed heads. Some already include additions made from found materials, which display evidence of weathering from its time exposed to the elements. You can see Jane's wall hung pieces on display in this section and also some freestanding sculptures in our show In the Spotlight.
Christine has sculpted, in one medium or another, for most of her life. Since leaving university she worked as a soft sculpture artist for seventeen years and undertook design commissions for several toy manufacturers in the UK and USA. She then returned to her first love; clay, and has been making figurative pieces since 2007. Christine’s work is informed by ideas and reflections upon the nature of childhood; play, half-remembered folk tales and how these things impact upon us as adults. “My figures tell stories. Sometimes light-hearted, sometimes unsettling or melancholy, I aim to capture character and a suggestion of private thoughts. Sometimes my figures disguise themselves as animals. Occasionally they are caught in the act of transformation; half human, half beast." Some of Christine’s work is available in art resin editions as well as creating one-off pieces in stoneware and porcelain. The delight of working with resin for Christine is its versatility; it can be coloured, painted, gilded, or made to resemble metal, stone, and marble with the addition of powdered bronze, iron, marble, etc. Christine takes great care over the presentation of her work and regards a frame or mount as integral to the whole piece. Wood is a beautiful material in its own right, especially when it is well seasoned and has prominent grain, cracks or knots that some might consider ‘flaws’. “I work deliberately with these natural occurrences, often enhancing and drawing attention to them by the addition of gilding. Wherever possible, I use reclaimed and British hardwoods such as oak, ash, and beech.” You can see both Christine's wall hung pieces and freestanding sculptures in this show.
Samantha is inspired by Victorian gadgetry and invention creating suspended, wall mounted and free standing sculptures out of a combination of wire, leather, found objects and collected materials. Samantha finds herself preoccupied with everyday life, but not of her own; that of the fairy. Consequently her sculptures place what can only be described as fairies with machine-like contraptions. They depict fairies going about their everyday lives. Within her extraordinary objective is to realise the necessities and requirements that would be involved in ‘fairy life’; to provide everything a fairy would demand during its daily existence. You can see Samantha's wall hung pieces in this show.
Frances first started making silver jewellery in the 1990’s whilst still exhibiting and selling her print works. Her interest in working primarily with metal has gradually exceeded the printed image, however she likes to think that she applies the same skills and interests in drawing, acid etching and use of textures to her work; now just on a smaller scale. Recently Frances has been working on exploring larger 3D wall pieces which are really an extension & a combination of her jewellery & print techniques where she combines a range of found materials with textured base metal. You can see Frances wall hung works in this show.
Vivienne was born in Glasgow and spent every summer in the village of Kildonan, Isle of Arran. Training at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen she specialised in sculpture and ceramics. Soon after graduating she started a 30 year period of working in Arts Administration, Gallery Education and Lecturing in Art and Design. Having worked at helping others to show, appreciate and create artwork she is now returning to focussing on her own creativity. Influences in her work are the natural world, found objects and texture and pattern. ”I am a compulsive beachcomber. Every walk along the shore provides a starting point for another piece of work. Streamlined, fluid shapes of birds and sea creatures are a source of inspiration for me as a sculptor in clay. I employ diverse materials such as seaweed, banana skins, and avocados in the smoke firings to create the random markings on the surface of each piece. Each work is unique and cannot be repeated.”
Debbie is a studio potter based in South Oxfordshire, with a studio in her garden. She has been potting for 20 years and hand builds her pots using coils and moulds. “I much prefer hand building rather than throwing as I feel a closer connection to the clay.” Her spherical pots are influenced by the Korean Moon jar; an icon of Korean ceramics dating from the mid-17th - mid 18th century. Usually made of porcelain, these large storage jars were called Moon jars because of their shape and the milky white glaze used. “I recently discovered the jars were called 'big jars' originally and only in the 20th century did the name 'Moon Jar' come into use.” She also makes a variety of pails with beautiful handles crafted from wooden branches.
Jean produces one-off, thought provoking, figurative pieces and this current body of work was inspired by a visit to the Museum of Childhood. Through these 'toy like' figures Jean aims to convey thoughts, feelings or narratives, in a way that is not always obvious, and thus invites interpretation by the viewer.
Roger Bennett is well-known in the Irish crafts world for his very distinctive coloured wooden bowls and vessels. These are surprisingly thin, gracefully shaped, and many of them are dramatically inlaid with hundreds of silver dots arranged in constellation-like clusters or formal geometric patterns. "I love wood, the uniqueness of each piece, the history of the tree’s life preserved in the ring patterns and figuring. A completed bowl should satisfy all our senses. Line and form above all else, traced by eye and hand, from rim to base and all around. The smell of wood and oil. And whenever a bowl is right, it sings."
Artist and Ceramicist Jasmine Simpson graduated from Staffordshire University with a BA in 3D Design and Craft in June 2014. Jasmine grew up and studied in the home of the Potteries, Stoke-on-Trent, upon which she states, had great influence within her work. Using traditional ceramic techniques of mould making and slip casting she transforms her dynamic animal drawings and paintings into 3D earthenware forms. “Animals provide a power and beauty that I can’t help but capture in both painting and sculptural form. I have always loved to explore ways of encapsulating the essence of an animal through mark making and painting.” Jasmine sculpts and plaster casts every one of her animal forms from scratch, which she then casts in Earthenware clay slip, in order to obtain several copies that will act as 3D canvases onto which she applies her painting style. To decorate her pieces she uses a combination of sgraffito, hand painted glaze and lustre. “The dog Figures you can see in the images are part of a project I am involved in called the 'Staffordshire Dog project', I was commissioned to sculpt and cast several re-imagined figures based on the traditional Staffordshire Flatback dogs. The blank figures have been sent to be decorated by several schools and art groups. They will then be toured and auctioned for the Donna Louise Trust charity.” Jamsine is currently one of many new makers based at Middleport Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent. Home to the world famous Burleigh Pottery and where The Great Pottery Throw Down was filmed. Middleport has recently gone through a stunning restoration by the Prince’s Regeneration Trust who created a number of workshop units situated in the heart of the grade II listed pottery for creative businesses, providing a hub for craft and creativity in Stoke-On-Trent.
Sally initially trained in 3D design with a specialism in ceramics and glass, but having always worked with a variety of materials it was inevitable that she would eventually turn to working in wood. Sally concentrates on bowls and hollow forms introducing colour, texture and metal leaf to her designs. “I am excited by the many patterns found in nature particularly logarithmic spirals but also with architectural structures; the space that they define, the shadows that their structures create and their dominance of the landscape. Buildings have often been the inspiration for my designs.” Turning wood is a combination of practical skills; an intuitive sense of the wood (the 'art' to make the most of the grain), the texture and the structure that is exposed as the log is turned. Selecting green wood to turn and working with the grain, (which has possible inherent cracks and inclusions), is technically challenging. “When you turn green wood the shavings are warm and damp, the studio is filled with the scent of the wood and your tools need to be kept especially sharp. You have to work fast as the wood dries as the walls become thin and the stresses in the wood can result in cracks or checks. Yew is one of my favourite woods, it is quite stable and as the wood dries there is little distortion. Sycamore, maple and cherry distort rapidly as they dry, bowls and platters often becoming oval a characteristic that can be exploited.”