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.
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.