Friday, 14 July 2017

The Curator's View August 2017

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There are a number of reasons to look forward to this month's group of featured makers. Two of our exhibitors – Mark Smith and Petra Bittl have been immensely popular on previous occasions and I am delighted that they are showing here again. As is often the case, there is a marked contrast in style and making processes which makes the show that much more stimulating.

The work of Mark Smith, as his followers know well, is inspired by the sea and coastline. His decorative sculptures are redolent of the marine world in colour and his use of materials. Ships, boats, wrecks, beach huts and houses are the main focus of the work, all textured with raised and indented objects that have an indication of our industrial past. He has a bottomless well of creativity, as is manifest in the distinctiveness of each new piece.

Petra Bittl has always made an impact when her work has been shown here. Her sculptural and organic pieces have sophisticated decoration and tactility.

 There are always surprise pieces that are an expression of her creative energy and unique perspective. What I personally like about Petra's work is her ability to produce large-scale sculptural pots alongside small-scale pieces using entirely different making techniques. 

As I have often said, creativity has to be underpinned with high level making skills to be effectively expressed and Petra's skills are self-evident.









Richard Miller is showing here for the first time. His wood-fired stoneware is distinctly decorated and although inspired by the Japanese ceramic culture in which he has spent time, he likes to create functional pots that establish a dialogue with each other and indeed with us. 

Some will be familiar with his name as he was the technician in the last Great Pottery Throwdown TV series

. He is also joining us for the August Makers Lunch – sorry all places now taken up – and we anticipate an interesting and good humoured two hours with our guest.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

MAKER'S LUNCH - 30th June 2017 - CRAIG UNDERHILL




Craig has been showing his abstract expressionist pots at Bevere for many years. We are pleased to have  a group of his latest pieces and for the first time a number of his paintings. I have used the term abstract impressionist because of the spontaneity of his decoration and the use of mark making. There is no better person to talk about his work than Craig himself and it was a particular pleasure to have him at Bevere for our Makers Lunch  to talk about the ceramics which we are currently featuring and to discuss his approach to making.

The intimacy of the lunch and the ability to discuss ceramic making in an informal and comfortable setting facilitated a  rich and insightful discussion. Whilst he does not eschew theoretical analysis of his work, what emerged from the discussion was the basic truth that what you see before you in every piece is the essential spirit of the maker. The development of Craig's work over time is, then, likely to be a manifestation of the development of his persona – not some conscious decision to take the work in a new direction.

Craig gave an interesting perspective on the ceramicist as painter and the different approach demanded by two and three dimensional working. He clearly enjoys both and long may he continue.

The purpose of the Makers Lunch is to encourage relationships between the maker and those wanting to learn more about individual makers and the broader aspects of studio ceramics. We have been much encouraged by the Lunches held so far and it confirms our view that the gallery has a wider remit than simply putting the work for sale on a plinth.


Thank you Craig and each of the participants for making it a really enjoyable time together.

The next   Maker's lunch will be with  RICHARD MILLER, 
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The technician from 'The Great Pottery Throwdown' on Saturday 5th August

Monday, 19 June 2017

Curator's View July 2017




The Bevere Gallery Featured Maker programme gives us the opportunity each month to enhance an already high quality range of studio ceramics. Someone recently asked me how we choose the makers we show here. In truth, we have to have an emotional response to the work. Whilst quality and individuality is important, It is the impact on the senses that registers most and hopefully we will have struck the right chords with this months makers.

The maker here for the first time this month is Justine Allison. She is clear that her work addresses the boundaries between function and decoration; looking at objects that are used on a daily basis, like the form of a jug, and creating pieces that move away from function and are more concerned with the aesthetic and the visual. She works in porcelain and the luminescence that the material brings to her work adds to its attractive qualities.

The last time Rowena Brown showed her extraordinary groups of ceramic houses they were sold out. They have great character and an atmosphere that is derived from their colours and texture. She raku fires her pieces and this gives them much of the distinctiveness that they display, as well as adding to the presence of her pieces. I believe that the appeal of her work is not just the originality,  but the response we  all have to the man-made landscape.

Craig Underhill has been showing his abstract expressionist pots at Bevere for many years. We are pleased that we will be having a group of his latest pieces and for the first time a number of his paintings. Craig will also be the focus of our Makers Lunch this month and I am delighted that we will have the opportunity to explore his approach to making as well as his influences and what sparks his creativity. Do book a place at the lunch which is being held on Friday 30 June, as they are invariably stimulating and enjoyable events.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Curator's Comments on June in the Gallery




The gallery philosophy of contrast and diversity in ceramics is evident in this month's three featured makers – indeed more so than most. Each of thse ceramicists brings a refreshingly different perspective to the clay object as a work of art. I do not want to get into the art /craft debate but there is little doubt in my mind that it is artistic creativity underpinned by high level craft skills that is the measure of quality.

The maker new to Bevere this month is Midori Takaki.
Born and raised in Japan but currently living in Canterbury,  Midori's work is clearly Japanese in influence with a strong emphasis on the figurative with  the shades of folklore and legend. She had aspirations to be a writer from a very young age and now sees ceramics as a vehicle for telling the many stories running through a vivid imagination. Above all else, this work will make you smile. We have always welcomed Japanese makers into Bevere as they bring such different cultural perspectives.

Martin McWilliam has shown at

Bevere on several occasions and he is another who always surprises with the inventiveness of his work and his use of texture, contrasting clays and found pieces. Exploration is a key word here. His pieces often have a strong archaeological feel as some of them manifest objects found within the clay.  Trompe l'oeil has been a feature of his ceramics for a number of years and his large and small 'vessels' always excite interest.




Debbie Barber is here again.
She will also be with us in person as she will be at the Maker's Lunch planned for 2nd June – do try to get a ticket if you would like to talk with her about her work. We anticipate once more being enchanted by her beautifully hand decorated raku vessels. She has such a good eye and deft  artistry. Many people find it difficult to appreciate that every pot is hand painted and personally I never cease to admire the surety which is demonstrated by her imaginative and elegant decoration.

So there we are;  another group of makers who demonstrate so well why we believe in the power of studio ceramics to bring light and joy into our lives.

Stuart Dickens
Ceramic Curator

Monday, 5 June 2017

MAKERS LUNCH 2 JUNE 2017 DEBBIE BARBER





It was a real pleasure to have Debbie Barber join us for this months Makers Lunch not only because her fine raku work is widely admired, but because I have been an enthusiast since first seeing her work about three years ago. She was delighted to be back at Bevere again and to be featured along with Midori Takaki and Martin McWilliam.


During the time spent in the gallery before lunch, Debbie explained the process of 'naked raku' and how her extraordinary decorative technique was developed. Her original work in textiles was evident in the patterning and her love of medeival design. What is important however is that all her designs are deftly transcribed in the making process.

Debbie's creative drive will always ensure that her approach to making will develop over time and she is currently beginning to experiment with the use of a wider colour palette. It was generally agreed that the dilemma for all makers with a distinctive voice is that change in a sense runs counter to the very reason why their work is so popular. However, it is  nevertheless that creative spirit and necessity will prevail and alternate series of work will be developed.

Debbie has robust quality control. She has to feel very positive about a piece before it is allowed on the market. This was evident  given the comments about the tactility, shape and burnished finish of each pot. What emerged very clearly was that the pot was the 'canvas' for Debbie's expression of ideas around pattern and decoration. At the moment she felt that she had taken the naked raku technique about as far as she could..

Once again the Makers Lunch was a memorable experience and one that combined learning more about individual making and creativity with eating excellent food over a leisurely lunch– what could be better!
Stuart Dickens
Ceramic Curator
4 June 2017
 Next MAKER'S LUNCH with  CRAIG UNDERHILL  on FRIDAY JUNE 30th
 for more details and to JOIN US Tel 01905 754484

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Maker's Lunch with DEBBIE BARBER- Friday 2nd JUNE 2017

 
Debbie Barber is one of our featured makers for June, and we are delighted that she has agreed to visit the gallery to discuss her new body of work and chat over lunch.

Debbie is a ceramic artist who specialises in raku and smoke fired ceramics and works from her home studio in rural Leicestershire.

Her art and design training was in textile decoration and embroidery. After ten years, she changed course and returned to college to train as a potter having a lifelong interest in ceramics. She retains her influences from her textile background.

She loves pattern and colour and takes inspiration from the natural world – trees, plants and the birds in her garden and the surrounding countryside.



Visitors are asked to arrive for Noon and we should be finished by 2pm, depending upon discussions over lunch in The Stable.

Tickets are £15 per person and we have a few remaining places available. Please telephone the Gallery on 01905 754 484 to reserve your place.



Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Gallery Maker's Lunch - 6th May 2017 - KEITH VARNEY

The second of the Gallery's Maker's Lunches involved Keith Varney whose work has been in the gallery since he was in our Annual Graduate Show in 2011. I have to say that the two hour session went by very quickly and I suspect that this was a reflection of the level of engagement between Keith and the ceramic enthusiasts who attend the lunch.

There was a strong feeling that Keith was a highly skilled maker whose work was uniquely his voice. Most were surprised when he talked about the way he made each piece and his ability to bring together complex shapes with no evidence of a join or 'the potter's thumb'. He responded to all of the many questions with candour  and welcomed all of the considerable feedback which he received during the session.

One of the issues that emerges from these revealing discussions with makers is the interest in the 'what' – probably more so than the 'how'. Even though high level technical skills are admired, the maker's motivation and creative drive is what marks them out as special people. Keith has always been a maker - since childhood indeed -  and whilst he initially he became a furniture designer and maker, his conversion to clay was absolute.



                                                                               A fine group of his latest work is featured in the   gallery until the end of this month – do take the opportunity to see some truly original ceramic art.




Stuart Dickens
Ceramic Curator
8 May 2017