ceramics

Carmela Kantorowicz – Ceramics

    Making ceramics is a very challenging disapline.  There is always something new to discover, a new technique, different materials.  There is always a challenge and I never tire of it. This sustains my creativity and drives me as an artist.

I usually start from a technique.  You have to understand the constraints involved and work within those.  From experience you discover what works and what doesn’t, what forms the materials will allow you to make, and what effects you can achieve.    I usually have a picture in mind of the end result, but getting there can often take a lot of time and effort.

It doesn’t happen often that I have a lull in the flow of ideas, I have more ideas than I have time to realise them.  If I’m really stuck, I just make something I have done before and often discover something new in the process, or find a way of improving it. One idea flows from another.

I’ve always enjoyed making things.  From a young age at home we were always knitting, sewing, embroidering, cooking, baking etc.  I enjoyed art and pottery at school, but because I was very academic and went to a grammar school, it didn’t seem the best path for me.  However, now I realise if I had understood myself better I would have been much happier if I had been able to take art and craft more seriously.  It took a long time before I had the opportunity to really learn about ceramics and spend time making.  These days  I’m always thinking about ceramics, but having a family makes it difficult to find as much time as I would like to devote to it.  There are a lot of distractions.  I also never seem to have enough space, and because certain processes need to be done outside, my work is very weather dependent.  In the winter it’s too cold to make very much.  I would love a beautiful big studio with everything I need.

I think that it’s always difficult from a commercial and financial point of view for artists, but I believe they do what they do because it fulfils a need in them to create and to express themselves.   I enjoy doing commissions  as long as they fit in with the existing body of work.  A lot of people ask for things not understanding the limits of the way I work.  It is very hard to repeat pieces exactly, especially with raku, as the final outcome is mostly out of your control.   I find selling and marketing detracts from the time spent making.  I like to make things that I find interesting and enjoy myself.  If I try only to please other people, I find it doesn’t work for me.  I do my best work making pieces I love and if other people love them too that’s great.   I find it quite hard to promote myself and my work.  It might not appear so, but I’m quite shy and don’t like a lot of attention.

I would like my work to speak for itself.

Jeremy White – Ceramics

I hate clutter, but my life is lived in a permanent state of clutter and untidiness from which my studio does not escape.   I try to keep it habitable, but somehow I seem to work better in chaos, although I take care to ensure that the finished piece of work is not sloppy.   My Studio is a small space (a Summerhouse in any other life) in the garden.   I look out onto trees and plants and I know that behind me is a stream, meadow, canal, fields and the Chilterns.   All of these feed my imagination and Creativity.

Inspiration is the nub of an idea, either a photograph, or preferably a landscape view ‘en plein air’, which will later germinate into a physical creation.  I also ‘need’ to work, either to tease out a pot from a vague idea.  The need to produce in a physical, tangible form, an idea which is rolling around in my mind sustains me as an artist and the need to make a living drives me, they feed off each other.  If it wasn’t in clay, it would need to be by some other process.  When  I need to develop new work,  I don’t often sit down and think “lets have a new idea”.   It is a process of osmosis where one piece or style of work leads onto or suggests a development to another stage.

Once I have an idea, I will sometimes make very rough  (and very poor) sketches, usually on scraps of paper which I later have to rescue from the recycle bin.  When working on the wheel new shapes, will develop from others, often by accident!  If I have a lull in the flow of new ideas.  I find going back to basics; either throwing 100 mugs, or simple hand building, usually stimulates the grey cells into doing something different!

 

I have always had creativity inside me, but it only blossomed into a concrete form around the age of 25.   I had wanted to be an actor.   At School I got 5% in Mock Science O Level and refused point blank to take the proper exam, and bugged everyone until I was allowed to do Art O level (for which I received my best marks).   Later Ceramics came into my life almost by accident, but I was hooked.   I built, literally, my first studio and immersed myself in making and selling Pots. I also returned to teaching, Ceramics, this time rather than English and Drama. After a period when I was teaching full time, my own creativity stopped and I had a need to do something completely different.   Many years later the call of the clay could no longer be resisted and I returned to full time Potting.  Now it informs my life!  It’s a visual response, by looking at everything from a different point of view, seeing ‘a pot’, potentially in every view or landscape.

 

With regard to commissions, I don’t really like them, unless the brief is VERY open.  When some one has said’ make me one like that’, they usually end up saying, ‘but its not same colour’ or ‘the shape is different’ as if the pieces were made on a production line and from moulds.  If I make thrown domestic ware then the work is repeatable, but less satisfying to do.   The open brief can be quite satisfying, but if the commission is not something that I enjoy doing then I am afraid that it takes a back seat in my list of priorities.

I don’t really enjoy the process of selling or marketing my own work.  ‘Artist and Makers’ Fairs, ( I don’t like the “Craft Market” scenario as it rather gets mixed up with knitted tea cosies and stuff my Mother used to make for Church Bazaars, which I hasten to add have their place in the order of things!), are my main source of direct outlet.   I take part in our County Open Studios fortnight, which I find interesting and rewarding.   I am delighted if Galleries are interested in taking/buying my work, although I dislike the process of having to present myself and my work for scrutiny.  If money were no object then I would play around with ideas more than I am able to do now, experiment and ‘play’ with different techniques.   I have a website, which I am very bad about keeping up to date, thankfully, my Webmaster is good at nagging me.   I don’t do twitter or Facebook.    Fortunately there will always be people who want to buy hand crafted work, and will pay for it, preferring that to the mass produced and significantly cheaper, items in various stores.   It is just a case of finding them!

 

Artist Spotlight: Peter Garrard – Ceramics

Our first artist spotlight of the Summer show is on ceramicist Peter Garrard.  His gorgeous ceramic birdhouses are just amazing and really caught my imagination.  We here in Surrey to like to attract birds into our gardens and what better way than to treat them to one of these lovelies!  Peter also has a range of  ceramic panels that we’re very happy to show, quirky and beautiful at the same time.  To help you get to know Peter a little better he talks here about how he develops his work and what brought him to where he is now.

Some of my earliest memories are of making things; constructing towers of wooden blocks spiralling to the ceiling with my Dad on his return home from work; building dams in streams from boulders with my brother and playing with Lego every day for many years. I later went from building Lego houses to drawing the ideal home to live in and for many years thought I would become an architect. At secondary school I discovered clay and increasingly spent all my spare time in the Pottery. Many of my early sculptures were, of course, of buildings. By the time it came to apply for university I realised it had become more important to me to work with clay than to be an architect.

I now realise that by producing my art work I have had the privilege of being able to continue to play as an adult.

 

I also spent many hours as a child helping my Dad in the garden and reading history books in my room. On Sundays we went to church. All of this continues to inform my own art work to the present day with its recurring themes of Biblical imagery, historic architecture and the natural form.

After university I taught pottery and painting and drawing for many years in a secondary school. I found that, as a teacher, I was constantly thinking up new projects to do with the young people and was in turn inspired by what they produced. Much of my recent work is based on the collaging and mark-making experiments that I did with these classes. I enjoy the freedom of pressing found objects into the clay and then playfully combining the resultant images together to create a narrative.  While I was teaching I continued to make my own work in my spare time but always found that I had more ideas than time to realise them. As a result the subject matter and style of my own work would vary widely.

During the last few years I have spent less time teaching and more time on my own work so I have turned our dining room into my studio, giving me a space in our home where I could work and store all my materials. It makes such a difference when you can leave your experiments lying around and when you can have a quiet space where you can reflect and concentrate.  I find that I am in my studio, well into the evening most days.  I now feel it will be good to separate my home and work life a little more so I intend to build myself a larger studio in the garden, somewhere with more day light and space. I can’t wait.

I have repeatedly made sculpture to be placed outdoors. The initial inspiration for my bird houses was the vernacular architecture of the Cotswolds but I became
increasingly interested in buildings from my travels and particularly by the decorative qualities of the Moorish buildings of the Alhambra and of Cordoba. Close study of the ancient Chinese brass vessels at The Ashmolean in Oxford has also been influential. I always find it hugely inspiring to spend a day drawing somewhere like The Ashmolean or The Victoria and Albert Museum; I come away full of ideas for future work. In fact I am more likely to look at ancient artefacts than contemporary ceramics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t have any problems in producing work although there are times, when I am feeling less creative, when I might repeat work or go out and seek inspiration.  In fact just handling the clay can be wonderfully soothing and sometimes it is enough to be working on some simple repetitive task.  On other occasions I might simply ‘play’ with the clay. This develops a life of its own as I intuitively work with it and invariably results in something satisfying.

What I enjoy most is when I am set a new challenge such as to create a piece for commission, or as at the moment, making sculpture for a specific venue. My latest work is for The Rococo Gardens in Gloucestershire. Combining my love of history with nature I am creating a series of organic forms inspired by a wall hanging, an 18th century piece of Indian chintz fabric, which I found in the Ashmolean.  With this sort of ambitious task I find it helpful to go through a conscious design process, making studies of things I have found before going onto develop ideas through drawings and maquettes.