Home - 40 Years in the Making
Image: Margo Selby
There really is no place like home in this year’s Autumn/Winter offering from the gallery in its 40th anniversary year. Celebrated makers and their highly sought after collectable pieces will be displayed in our homely setting highlighting the very best in unique conversation pieces for your home. We’ll also be introducing you to some makers we’ve never worked with before, giving you the opportunity to explore unique talents in the world of contemporary craft today.
8th Oct 2022 - 28th Jan 2023
Our work for this show is displayed on vintage furniture supplied by Space Harrogate and is all for sale! Just get in touch with us for more info or pay us a visit in person.
Click on the links to our past shows below to discover more from our amazing 40 year archive!
Gabriele has worked with us since our early days where we first exhibited her wonderful ceramics in a show we called Five Potters in 1992. She has been involved in many of our anniversary shows including Collect Showcases in 2007 (celebrating 25 years) and 2012 (celebrating 30 years). Gabriele’s initial desire to work in clay was kindled in Spain; “The interior had left a deep impression: an open desert- like landscape with simple horizon lines and strong earth colours from black to ochre to red. I also discovered the beauty of unglazed pottery, the surfaces enlivened by fire marks, and the strong sculptural forms of unglazed jugs, hints of Africa and early cultures. My interest in the elemental quality of ceramics led me to explore, burnished, smoke fired work, and to investigate the direct interaction between fire and earth.” There was perhaps a meeting of the ancient and the modern, the rural and the urban that led her to the making of simple forms, trying to integrate balance and tension, stillness and movement, expansion and the containment of volume, precision and spontaneity. Central to her work is the concept of the vessel, hoping to create associations with sharing, ritual and celebration, reminders of our humanity, our history and connection with nature. “I have now left smoke firing behind and my work has developed a more graphic language combining stoneware clay with porcelain. My original idea for this body of work came from looking at geological landscape and how different layers of sediment combine in rock formations.” All pieces are hand built and unglazed, some pieces are burnished and fired to 1000°C. The final surface of the stoneware pieces is achieved by single or multiple firings to 1200°C.
“My relationship with the Craft Centre Leeds goes back to nearly its beginning, then under the enlightened management of Mercia Southon. My first solo show there was in 1986, followed by two further solos in 1989 and 1991 and several group shows over the years. This has exposed my work to a large audience in the area and also led to the acquisition of some pieces by several public collections, among them Lotherton Hall, Townley Hall Art Gallery and Museum and Wakefield Art Gallery. I am immensely grateful to the Craft Centre for its commitment to support my work from the beginning, thus attracting the interest of collectors and further galleries in the north and nationally.”
Sue featured in a show called Figure That in 2015 and we're delighted to welcome her back to the gallery with a brand new collection. She trained as a sculptor at St Martin’s College of Arts in London, originally working with wood & metal. “I am inspired by tribal art, which has developed an appreciation of the power of simplicity. I am also interested in the visceral connection between nature, tribal art and fire.” The masks and figures of different cultures have informed and broadened Sue’s interest in and understanding of both beauty and craftsmanship, of contrast and opposites, darkness and light. Recent work is concerned with exploring the figure in the abstract and objects decorated with geometric symbols and rhythmic patterns present in African textiles. Sue’s work is mainly hand built and final firings are either raku or saggar fired.
“Passion for the object, material and the making process is at the heart of my creative practice. As a maker, it is very refreshing and reassuring to find such passion shared by the gallery and staff at Craft Centre Leeds - their enthusiasm for original and finely crafted objects has brought many memorable exhibitions to Leeds. I am delighted to be involved in their 40th Anniversary celebration and look forward to continuing the creative partnership.”
Martin has worked with the gallery in it's early days in shows such as Rings & Moving Things 1996, Menagerie 1999 and A Retrospective Future in 1999. We're thrilled to see Martin's return to the gallery with his amazing sculptural automata in our anniversary year. Martin is an artist whose research and work are concerned with people's perception and interpretation of space. He undertakes large architectural commissions that interact with their given space and the viewer through mechanical movement. Alongside this work, his practice is also concerned with making kinetic devices that investigate themes of repetition, precision and rules. These utopian objects and spaces are what currently drive his work forward. The Kinetic Arboretum was this year, sited at The Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire. Martin is also the Co-Founder and Art Director of the design label, Laikingland. The collaborative work he creates through this company plays with the themes of humour, nonsense and futility. You’ll find Martin’s money collecting kinetic sculpture in the Thackray Museum of Medicine, Leeds. The piece is ‘The Cashless Cache Machine' and is activated by contactless card payment!
Cat exhibited her beautiful ceramics with us back in 2020 in our annual Valentine's and Mother's Day exhibition Handmade with Love. We can't wait to showcase a new collection from Cat for this exhibition. She has been a printmaker since leaving Saint Martins in 1981, and had her own screen printing business for 30 years. About ten years ago she took up ceramics, and found how sympathetic the surface of clay is to taking print. She explores various techniques using slips, oxides and underglazes, and to add to the possibilities, uses a variety of clay surfaces, from smooth, white porcelain, to deliciously dark, black clay or heavy, textured, grogged clay. In her printing business, it was important that all prints looked exactly the same, but in her more personal low-tech experimental ceramic printing, what she likes is the inevitable unique details of each piece. “Unlike printing on paper or fabric, the thrill of ceramics is the transformation of the materials in the kiln. Of course, one gets to predict pretty well how the various materials will interact with each other and the heat, but there are always some surprises, and that’s what I like; it's as if some other hand has put the final touch to the work.” Her imagery is often about people in spaces, the scale of our environment, and she tries to capture moments of the wonder it is to live on this earth, and the struggle to comprehend all that science is teaching us about ourselves and our world.
“For crafts people like myself, the Leeds Craft Centre is a window to an audience that is often hard to find. Having this outlet gives me the support, confidence and inspiration to pursue my path. The fact that they have been going 40 years proves that they do what they do really well. I’m very grateful.”
Jeremy is a talented sculptor and printmaker based in Derbyshire and has worked with the gallery in many of our exciting shows including Menagerie in 1999, A New Breed in 2001, Archive in 2007 and Parklife in 2010. His last show was in a group print show in 2020 called Natural World with Tim Southall . Working as a professional artist for over 35 years, his work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is held in numerous public and private collections all over the world. Jeremy trained at Norwich, Exeter and Cardiff, specialising in sculpture. His work is concerned with animals & people and frequently, their interaction. Much of the sculptural work is made in high fired ceramic and fired in an ageing gas kiln. All the work is ‘one-off’, unique pieces with extensive hand modelling of soft stoneware clay involved in its making. In the last few years Jeremy has returned to his love of printmaking to compliment his sculptural work. Jeremy has taught and lectured at many teaching institutions throughout the UK, and currently is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Derby. “I’m interested in the power of objects, what they can make us feel and remember. I believe objects can console, help us hope, make us dream and to recall things that are important to us. It is why I make things.”
Jin Eui Kim
Jin is an internationally renowned ceramic artist who we had the pleasure of working with back in 2013 in a show called Centre Stage. Originally from South Korea, he now lives with his family in Cardiff. Whilst at Cardiff School of Art & Design Jin Eui studied the illusory effects of the application of tonal bands to three-dimensional surfaces. He graduated with an MA and PhD in Ceramics. He was then accepted into Graduate Residence at Fireworks Clay Studios, Cardiff and remains a full time member. Exploration with tonal effects and spatial illusions by using gradients in tone, width of bands and intervals between bands is Jin's passion that results in works that are both visually and intellectually challenging.
“I participated in the exhibition titled Centre Stage with The Craft Centre and Design Gallery in 2013 and I am grateful and honoured to be invited to the 40th anniversary exhibition again in 9 years. I am honoured to be able to present my new works through this exhibition. As always, I hope that The Craft Centre and Design Gallery will play an important role in the art and craft field and wish you endless development.”
We're very much looking forward to welcoming Lisa back to the gallery after she showcased her beautiful ceramics in our Centre Stage exhibition in 2013 with Jin Eui Kim. She is a maker who started working with us soon after graduating, over 20 years ago. Lisa is a ceramicist based in the beautiful Peak District National Park. From her workshop she designs and hand makes sculptural vessels and forms inspired by the natural world. She has been a designer for over twenty years and has exhibited nationally and internationally. “My path to becoming a ceramist began in Liverpool in 1990 while working as a bank clerk. Feeling totally out of place in the office environment I visited the local careers office during one lunchtime. When asked what area of work I was interested in I had no hesitation in replying that I wanted to be an artist. An interview was arranged with Liverpool City College and by the following week I’d been accepted onto the Art Foundation course. My creative journey had begun! I’ve always had a love of nature and been fascinated by the beautiful natural structures and textures found in plants, bark, seed pods, corals and shells. It is this natural theme that inspires my ceramics.”
“The Craft Centre at Leeds have been hugely supportive of my work for over twenty years! I was first invited in 1999, just a couple of years out of university, to have a showcase solo exhibition with them. I was absolutely thrilled! Since then, they have continued to show my work and I’m so honoured to be part of their 40th Anniversary Exhibition.”
Brendan is a maker we've had the pleasure of working with many times over our 40 years including Menagerie in 1999, A New Breed 2001, Northern Lights 2009, All I Want for Christmas II 2009, Up Front and In the Spotlight 2010, Northern Lights 2012, Hare We Go 2015. Working in clay for the first time at sixth form Brendan selected to study ceramics at degree level. After a short time in North Wales, Brendan transferred to a sculptural ceramic course at Edinburgh College of Art in 1994. After 18 months as an artist in residence at Drumcroon Arts Centre where Brendan worked with children in art workshops and developed his own work for galleries and commission, he then pursued his freelance career after a move to Yorkshire in 1998. In his early work he illustrated animals in both two and three dimensions and enjoyed the freedom of expressing his ideas on a life-size scale. Brendan began working on monumental pieces after gaining a number of public art commissions. In some of these sculptures he experimented with animals on plinths and geometric bases which intensified the creature’s stature and allows for a greater contrast. The surface remains a focused element that he continues to develop. Adding colour, directional and textural marks Brendan has established a distinctive style that is notably recognised and collected worldwide.
We're so happy to be working with Penny again for this show; she had a Solo Ceramic Showcase here with us in 2004 and last exhibited with us in a show we called Monochrome-Surface in 2018. As a London based potter Penny’s work reflects 21st century living and the city in which she lives and works. It is characterised by clean, precise lines and forms using a strong palette. “My objective in working with clay is to create beautiful dynamic forms. I use porcelain and bone china clays and make moulds in which I cast my forms. This enables me to make very thin fine forms, often using layers or inlays of different coloured clays. The forms are hand carved and then finely sanded to achieve a natural smooth opaque like quality.” Penny often makes forms that link together as pairs. Her aim is to explore the subtlety of the hollow form in which the function is secondary to the form. Her interest in bone china is to create carved forms with variable areas of translucency, exploring the possibilities of light and shade, sometimes incorporating opaque areas with additional colour. Penny doesn’t see her work as primarily functional, rather than as pieces in their own right which enhance the interior in which they are placed and as pieces in which form and decoration become fused. Inspiration is always from life and drawn from a wide variety of sources including people, architectural features and objects in museums. “My work arises from abstracting, developing and combining different aspects of the natural and the man-made world.”
“Over the years I have found the gallery to be extremely encouraging and caring about my work and they have been a model of efficiency and reliability. I have always felt privileged to be associated with the gallery and all its staff.”
We've had the pleasure of working with Michelle and her stunning collections many times over the years including in the exhibition Flora and Fauna in 2008, Metal Marvels in 2009 and Parklife in 2010. Michelle’s art is work of elegant simplicity which, in itself, is the first of many seductions into an engagement with a complex network of tensions. The work is bedded in the clear space between opposites; the movement captured in stillness; the fragility and ephemerality of nature captured in the strength and permanence of industrial, manmade materials; inexorable freedom within the clinically defined limitations of space. It is the dialogue that takes place between these polarities that engage so forcefully. Whilst utilising symbols found in nature that have a timeless constancy, the methods and media used are innovative applications of contemporary industrial materials subtly handled so that even the closest scrutiny give almost no intimation of their origins. This play between the timeless and the immediate is at the heart of Michelle's work. However tranquil the order of the instant may seem it cannot segregate itself from the underlying chaos of nature and it is into this engagement with chaos that we are lured, so unassumingly, by the captivating simplicity of order.
“Having first exhibited my work at The Craft Centre Leeds very early in my career I was delighted to be invited back all these years later to celebrate 40 years of such a wonderful venue for the arts.”
Walter is a British studio potter specializing in salt glaze pottery. He has worked with us from our early days and in shows such as Back to Life in 1998, Mugs as Celebratory Vessels in 2002 (when we were celebrating 20 years), Collect in 2007 (when we were celebrating 25 years), and Collect in 2012 (when we were celebrating 30 years.) Named ‘Welsh Artist of the Year’ in 2007, Walter’s work is held in a number of public collections including Victoria & Albert Museum, American Craft Museum, New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Currently president of South Wales Potters, Walter was professor of Ceramics at the University of the West of England between 1994 and 2002. His bold and imaginative pieces have been heavily influenced by early Staffordshire Creamware, while taking their own unique formations. Walter believes his work grows from his passion for ‘pots from the past’ and the joy of making and firing itself. Sometimes making simple, useful, things like mugs or jugs, while on other occasions creating pieces that are a lot less straightforward, Walter’s pieces make demands, challenging the user to negotiate with an unexpected pot that seeks to do an ordinary job. “I hope my pottery brings with its seriousness some humour and sensual pleasure.”
Margo has worked with us since 2015 and we're delighted to showcase her colourful cushions in this exhibition, a first for us here in Leeds. Based in Whitstable, Margo is a designer with a bold approach to creating graphic, geometric, woven patterns using luxurious fabrics. Her philosophy is focused on the careful application of her designs to create exceptional quality products with a design led feel. Margo’s designs aim to push the boundaries of weaving to create contemporary, stylish textiles for a range of applications. She launched her first collection in 2003 with the help of a development award from The Crafts Council. The trademark patterns and textures are now sold in many shops and galleries and the products are fast becoming coveted contemporary classics. Margo is passionate about design and has a positive approach to working alongside other designers and companies with a similar ethos.
“I love having the Leeds Crafts Centre as a platform for my work in the North of England, tucked away under the entrance to the fantastic Leeds Art Gallery. It is a beautifully curated gallery and retail space and we have enjoyed working with the team over the last decade or so.”
Another exciting new maker to the gallery, Cáit graduated from Leeds Arts University in 2020 with an Illustration degree and has been part-time freelancing since then. Her biggest influence on her work has been storytelling and folklore. For her final university project, she chose to focus on folktales and folk art and different vehicles of storytelling. “This way of thinking and the influences I came across during this project seep into everything I make now. I’m interested in honest, authentic picture making that enriches stories and ideas.” Cáit is also very interested in Mid Century design, the limited colour palettes, and screen-printed textures, for example Czechoslovakian matchbox labels and 1960s children’s books.
We've had the pleasure of working with Jennifer in several shows over our 40 years including Birds and the Bees in 2012 and Tweet in 2019. Jennifer began carving stone after a chance encounter with masons dressing wall-stones and was taken by the sound and rhythm of hammer on chisel. The quarrymen worked with such mesmerising, neat-handed skill. On the strength of this meeting, she purchased her first stone working tools, and her love affair with stone began. Many years later quarry visits are still exciting to Jennifer, selecting blocks for sculpting, and bringing them back to the workshop for carving. Jennifer works primarily in sandstone, but also carves smooth and polishable limestones, marble, and irresistibly tactile soapstones. “If you’re like me, the natural world and wildlife fill you with wonder, my sculpture is about this feeling. And stone of course. A love of wildlife and the natural world is at the heart of my work, in which I am to capture creature essence in simple shape and form. From my workshop I catch glimpses of hedgerow birds, flitting, alarm calling or in courtship display. I watch, transfixed by stoat kits in tumble and play, or a hedgehog noisily forage. Inevitably these influences find their way into my carving.”
Please note that the images above may not be the work arriving for our show. We took some photos of the show which you can view below though and a Virtual Gallery Tour will be coming very soon! If you've seen something you want to know more about, please just get in touch, we're always happy to help.
Go behind the scenes with some of our makers...