Monday, 7 October 2019

BEvere Gallery's October's Maker's Lunch


Each month, we have the privilege of showing studio ceramicists with well established reputations for their skills and creative endeavour. Sandy Brown, by any criteria, is a maker of international standing. The very fact that her work is in 45 museums worldwide is testament to her status. It was immensely enjoyable having her join us for the Makers Lunch celebrating her feature here at Bevere.

Sandy's abstract decoration is instantly recognisable and her work has a timeless quality. She has undertaken huge projects, which are well known but, by contrast, she continues to make tea bowls, plates and strong sculptural pieces. This is an important show of her work for Bevere Gallery as it is a number of years since she last had work here.
Personally, I feel she epitomises ceramic art; she has produced original and striking work -  year on year - for several decades. I know it is another cliché but it is so true; her creativity is boundless. 

Someone once described Sandy's studio and gallery in Appledore as an inspiring and wonderful place. Indeed, I still have vivid memories of my visit  although it was a good few years back and I can only agree – it is the essence of creativity and the spirit which pervades Sandy's work.
We were surprised to hear that she only became engaged with ceramics during a five year stay in Japan where she worked with a number of eminent makers. What she welcomed about the Japanese approach was the freedom of expression which now defines her pots and their decoration. She talked very clearly about her approach to colour and her free flowing brush lines as well as her innovative combination of different clays for contrast and texture.

She is a great believer in pots being used and clearly her plates and pots will do much to enhance the eating and drinking experience. There is no sense in which she is precious about her work – functionality means what it says.

She returned to the UK from Japan to a very different environment and her vivid decoration and experimental use of clays stood out in a rather more constrained ceramic culture. It would need an essay of some length to cover the issues and life events raised by Sandy. What emerged more than any other factor was the concern to remain true to herself. This was a most absorbing two hours spent together and I am grateful for the spirit of enquiry that our lunch colleagues brought to the discussion. Long may Sandy continue to make such scintillating work.

Monday, 9 September 2019

We have, once again, enjoyed a Maker's Lunch that confirmed the contribution that these events make to understanding the creative drive of ceramicists and their making processes. We could not have had a more informative and entertaining two hours than with Ashraf Hanna whose work - along with that of his wife Sue Hanna – is featured at Bevere during September.

Ashraf is amongst the most elegant of makers whose modern flowing pieces have a strong presence  and have been a feature of UK ceramics for some years. This is work which ticks all the boxes for me and always demonstrates high level design and making skills. In his own words, hand-building his forms, making both individual and related groups of vessels, he ensures each object informs the next. The profiles, lines and spaces emerging from this process of development, their ultimate placement in relation to one another, the juxtaposition of sharp lines and softer curves, has become his major interest.

Sue's work also displays technical prowess but is vividly contrasted with her husband's. Her inspiration is tribal art and this pervades her work. The masks and figures of different cultures have informed and broadened her interest in and understanding of both beauty and craftsmanship, of contrast and opposites, darkness and light, wakefulness and sleep, and of the cycle of life itself.

During our discussion together, we learnt that Ashraf, with his background initially in theatre design, learnt from Sue in London the joy of working with clay and making pots. In Egypt where he was born, he spent considerable time drawing, particularly pots and ceramic vessels which go way back into Egyptian antiquity. Good drawing involves serious and attentive looking; what emerged from his description of the design process was his focus on form and line – best demonstrated in his cut vessels included in the group of pots on show. These are not casual cuts into the clay body – each is precisely placed to enhance and add insight into the shape and volume of  the vessel.

Design is a very powerful aspect of his work – indeed evident in Sue's fine pieces too. We spent some time  talking about the potential contribution of design conscious studio potters to the commercial ceramic world. Ashraf has the potential to get involved but, importantly and perhaps not surprisingly, emphasised the importance of the quality of the relationship between designer and maker.

We discussed at length Ashraf's approach to colour. I have to say that his yellow and black vessels look radiant in the Autumn sunshine as it streams into the Gallery. It is also evident that light gives even more strength to his undulating vessels giving each of them changing perspectives as the sun moves across the windows.

There is so much that can be said about this time with Ashraf – hopefully this brief review of our time together has given some sense of the pleasure and insights that we had from our time with him.

I am most grateful for the effort he made to be with us from Pembrokeshire. Thank you Ashraf and all  who made the lunch such an enjoyable experience.

Stuart Dickens
Ceramic Curator
September 2019

Thursday, 29 August 2019


This month's Featured Makers are Ashraf   

and Sue Hanna 
Ashraf will be joining us for the Bevere Gallery Makers Lunch on 7th September. Ashraf is amongst the most elegant of makers whose modern flowing pieces have a strong presence  and have been a feature of UK ceramics for some years. This is work which ticks all the boxes for us and always demonstrates the highest  level design and making skills.

Sue's work also displays technical prowess but is vividly contrasted with her husbands. Her inspiration is tribal art and this pervades her work. Unfortunately family commitments mean that she cannot be with us  for this event.

All of the available lunch places are taken  - however given the popularity of these enjoyable and informative events you may like to join us for the next one with Sandy Brown 

 the contemporary ceramicist of international reputation on Saturday 5th October.

Monday, 8 July 2019


Once again we have had a delightful Makers Lunch and this month we were joined by eminent maker Jack Doherty, who has an established  national and international reputation. He has been a friend of Bevere Gallery almost since we specialised in studio ceramics. Our collaboration with the CPA during his time as Chairman involved curating and setting up major exhibitions and his support and encouragement has always been unerring.

Importantly we have a fine group of new work from him which confirms our long-standing view that inherent in the apparent simplicity of Jack's vessels is a subtlety in texture and decoration which can only be achieved through years of experience and a highly developed aesthetic sensibility. Indeed this became a focus for our discussion in the gallery as we stood around his vessels before lunch. Simplicity is the bedrock of his creative drive and he acknowledged that this takes time to achieve – he quoted the sculptor Brancusi who wisely said that simplicity is complexity resolved. Indeed one of the complex paradoxes is that the Doherty decorative process has a significant element of uncertainty through the firing process and yet what we see is self evidently Jack's voice. His work also reinforced our perception about the 'presence' of individual pots and it was noted that even the most modest of his vessels – in scale that is - has elegance and resonance.
His ceramic career has involved a number of major step changes – moving after 25 years working near Ross on Wye to take up his leadership role at the Leach Pottery St Ives – his significant term as Chairman of the Craft Potters Association – and most recently returning to his independent role as ceramicist in Mousehole, Cornwall. Each of these periods prompted many questions which Jack answered with openness and candour acknowledging that each has involved a different range of skills and indeed management.

Importantly, this lunch demonstrated once again that the more time we spend looking and talking about specific work - its making and creative processes - the more we come to respect and admire the outcome.

Everyone including Jack thoroughly enjoyed our two hours together.

Stuart Dickens Ceramic Curator 

Tuesday, 4 June 2019


Once again, we have had a most stimulating lunch with a highly respected maker, confirming that our decision to promote ceramics through intimate and discursive lunches with ceramicists has proved a very positive initiative.

Jitka Palmer has been showing at Bevere almost as long as we have been specialising in ceramics. She is a constant observer of people and places and her many sketchbooks are translated into her pots which always draw attention and are much admired. Indeed she brought a number of her sketch books with her and they clearly demonstrate the provenance of her work.

Her painterly decoration is redolent of her Czech heritage and is very much three-dimensional art. I have been thinking about what attracted me to her work initially. I believe that her use of the brush with a confident and yet relaxed style and importantly her subject matter – primarily human - is the key. Her constant observation of people is reflected in her prolific and yet original output.  There is no doubting the maker of these pots as she clearly has a distinct voice.

I suspect that painting is in her DNA as she has been drawing and using colour since a very early age. There is certainly no diminution of her creative drive and she finds time to sculpt in stone as well as paint and produce decorated vessels. Her use of porcelain without over-glazing is an ideal material for her decoration and retains that strong watercolour feel and emphases her Slavic influences.

Her career has been an interesting and at times difficult journey. Trained as a doctor in Czechoslovakia during the Soviet era she then taught anatomy which certainly underpinned her fascination with people and their activity. Supported by her husband she decided to undertake a ceramics course in the UK and although this was an economically difficult period her creative drive and spirit saw her through and to the creation of her own workshop. The rest is history as they say, given that Jitka has become such an established figure in ceramics.

This brief resume of our time with her hardly does justice to the frankness and lucidity which Jitka demonstrates when she talks about her work and the direction that it has taken. To be sure she will be painting and making as long as her health allows and as to how it may develop – as she says this is entirely influenced by what she sees and the world around her. She feels strongly that climate change is the issue and hopefully her work can reflect key aspects in subtle and yet telling ways.

This was a most enjoyable lunch and I am extremely grateful for the effort Jitka made coming up from Bristol and indeed the contribution of our lunch companions whose questions and comments added much to the debate and our insight into Jitka's art.

Stuart Dickens
Ceramic Curator

The next Maker's Lunch will be Saturday 6th July - Jack Doherty 

We are delighted that Jack Doherty is coming to join us for lunch and conversation about his work and career in ceramics. He is an established maker with an impressive CV including Chairmanship of the Craft Potters Association and management of the Leach Pottery in St Ives. His decorative voice is distinctive and since moving to the South West his decoration increasingly takes on the hues of the ocean surrounding Cornwall. We anticipate that this collection of work will be no less impressive.  This should be another stimulating Makers Lunch. Do contact us to book your place with us.

Thursday, 23 May 2019


JUNE 2019
We have been delighted by the response to the Gallery's featured maker lunches and the informal two hours we spend together have proved informative with considerable insight into the creative minds of our guest makers.
This month it is a pleasure to have Jitka Palmer  with us. Jitka has been showing at Bevere almost as long as we have been specialising in ceramics. She is a constant observer of people and places and her many sketchbooks are translated into her pots which always draw attention and are much admired.  Her painterly decoration is redolent of her Czech heritage. This is very much three dimensional art.

Find out more by booking your place for the lunch which will be held on Saturday 
1st June between 1200 and 1400. Tickets are £15. Ring Bevere Gallery on 01905 754 484 or by email on


Tuesday, 7 May 2019


Joan and Jack hardie talk photo.jpg

I remember when we began this monthly programme of Makers Lunches, I had some concern that we might find successive discussions about ceramicists and their work somewhat repetitive. What these entertaining lunches have demonstrated is that the creative drive and approach to making pots is underpinned by the personality of the maker and their perception of the world around them and everyone is very different. Joan and Jack Hardie, whom we were delighted to have with us this month, epitomise that.

Joan and Jack  aim to make ceramics that are inspired by natural forms and have a sense of life and movement. 3D printing with clay makes it possible to create ceramic forms that embrace these aspirations which are not achievable by other means.
They started making pots together nearly 50 years ago and unusually for mature makers have become heavily committed to using technology to develop their making and thinking about pot design. This time with them gave us the opportunity to explore the path which  led to their adopting computer printing as their preferred approach.

The two hours of discussion were truly revelatory. Few of us have a detailed insight into the amount of intellectual effort as well as ceramic skills required to produce original and interesting computer printed pots. Five years ago they became aware of the potentialities of computer aided design and printing and spent a long time exploring and experimenting – to some extent their journey still continues as new ideas are developed and implemented. It was certainly evident that the notion that the use of the computer was simply a matter of pressing the start button and lo and behold  you have a pot, is naïve and simply wrong, It is the ceramic skills that the Hardies clearly have and their earlier technical backgrounds combined that serve them well.

They made their own printing equipment and they brought with them fascinating illustrations and a video which demonstrated the making process. Although their work is exhibited under their joint names, in fact Joan emphasised that individual pots were identifiable to one or the other – at least to them!!

They were aware of the controversy that computer printing generates  - perceived by some as not craft – that is, not emerging directly from the hands of the maker. Their view is that printing is no more than another process as is casting from moulds, slab making, coiling or throwing for that matter. Underpinning the process is a detailed understanding of the properties of clay and decisions about the use of specific clay types, design skills both in terms of creativity and the technical ability to use and manipulate design software to produce vessels that would be impossible to produce by hand.

During the course of discussion, it was increasingly evident that Joan and Jack had a high level of intellectual curiosity that could only be appeased by their exploration of the technical challenges presented by 3D printing. If you would like to know more about the processes do look at their website –

This was a highly enjoyable Makers Lunch providing open and frank exchanges which confirmed for everyone, including Joan and Jack, the value of engaging and open discussion over an excellent lunch.

Thank you to everyone.

Stuart Dickens
Ceramic Curator