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.