Saturday, 21 December 2013

THE CURATOR’S VIEW – January 2014

I have often wondered why the annual Graduate Show at Bevere is so popular with our visitors. Holding the show in January – the 2014 exhibition is our 8th – is a lively start to the year and many people come to the opening as an antidote to the extended confinement of Christmas and New Year. Clearly the show is more than just ‘somewhere to go’ in the darkest days of winter. It is also the first time that most visitors will have seen the work of the selected 2013 graduates from universities across the country. They look forward to seeing new, talented makers who for the most part will go on to enrich the diverse ranks of professional ceramicists.
I have been asked many times how we select the graduates for the show given that there are several hundred a year to choose from. Firstly, we are not saying that these graduates are the best of their year; that would be a hazardous statement given the subjective judgements involved. The thirteen exhibitors display the primary characteristics that are shared by all of the makers we represent – ceramic craft skills and a singular voice. The latter is about creativity and self-expression; the determination to produce authentic work and a style that over time will be recognisably their own.
There is another interesting phenomenon, which only becomes apparent from the accumulated experience of several graduate shows. It is the way in which reputations ebb and flow. Wales is particularly strong this year with several exhibitors from Carmarthen and Cardiff. Other leading schools from earlier years are less strong and some, sadly, have closed during this time. It is also a reflection of how difficult it is to maintain high standards over an extended period.
 For our part we have worked hard to ensure that the standard of this annual event is sustained and remains a high spot in the ceramic calendar.
This year’s group are exemplary; I am sure that many will go on to become established names. It would be inappropriate to name names at this point, particularly as we will be offering our visitors the opportunity to vote for the best in the show. Make sure that you get to see the show for yourself – it opens on Saturday 11th January 2014 – as a taster, here are a few images of the work which will be in the exhibition.

VALERIE  PRICE-WEST was voted the favourite graduate in the 2013 show. Bevere Gallery is delighted to be showing her work again exactly one year on from that show. Valerie is still very much influenced by the sea and her passion for rowing but those who remember her work last year will see that it has become more abstract and organic. It has been a feature of graduate show exhibitors that their work has undergone significant development over a relatively short period; we hope that the Graduate Show provides some impetus to that process.
 It will be noted that there are three graduates from Carmarthenshire College this year. Valerie is also a graduate from Carmarthen and this is an indication of the quality makers that the college is producing at this time.
Stuart Dickens
Ceramic Curator.