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.
Stuart Dickens Ceramic Curator