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


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
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