Archives for posts with tag: Ceramics

IMG_1082Before writing this blog, I came from my studio and noticed some broken pieces of industrial rubber sitting by the curb. Hardened from weathering and worn by vehicles driving over them, the crackled black surface retained a striking yellow streak. To most, their presence would go unnoticed, but to me, as a ceramic artist, they possessed a visual potential that I instinctively knew could lead to a new series of works.

IMG_7265It may seem obvious to say that observation is an invaluable part of an artist’s practice, but for me, it’s a research method and form of image collection that I have developed over the years – from drawing and painting in sketchbooks and making cardboard maquettes to forming slabs in clay. Observation has become as integral to my process as making and firing, and without the ability to observe and record my surroundings I think my work would be very different.

I like the notion that from a small mark on a wall, a spray-painted number on a paving slab, a rusted sheet of corrugated metal or broken piece of rubber, it is possible to see beyond ideas of unsightly detritus and reinterpret those markings or objects through the creative process.

IMG_7781I’ve been working with clay for the past 20 years. For me, clay is a material that’s always challenging, yet ideal for creating the forms I wish to make. It can be unpredictable, and hard work, but ultimately rewarding and gives me scope to define my interest in the relationship between industry and nature. Working with clay also means working with a specific series of tools: a kiln, cutting and rolling equipment, slips, oxides and glazes are all vital to the physical process of ceramics, but something that’s invaluable to me and an integral part of my own creative process, is the ability to observe the world around me and to translate these observations into clay.

Rebecca Appleby, September 2016RA_ceramic

Rebecca Appleby | Urban Palimpsest  is on show at New Craftsman from 10 September to 8 October alongside Matthew Lanyon | In The Tracks of the Yellow Dog, with sculpture by Breon O’Casey and ceramics by Matthew Chambers.



I titled this exhibition ‘Home Museum’. I am not talking about a grand ‘art’, rather I am talking about something that has come from the rawness of hand and material, the survival of objects that went through extreme heat, and what that reveals about the making process and my everyday life. It is my 3D sketchbook.

This new collection is directly related to my recent booklist. I was a psychology student 20 odd years ago and I have been reading a lot about the human brain lately. ‘The Brain That Changes Itself’ by Norman Doidge triggered my interest and led me to other related books in psychology, sociology, biology, neuroscience and religion, written from the view of brain function. Surprisingly there are many books in this area that can be understood without specialist knowledge, and can be easily related to our daily lives.

I went to see some Impressionist paintings recently, described in the exhibition guide as ‘unfinished’ in comparison to conventional descriptive paintings, and therefore not taken as ‘proper’ painting at the beginning of this art movement. In the world of craft, it was not the creators of art work, but connoisseurs who found beauty in the unpolished, peasant craft work of Japan. These pieces were called ‘gete-mino’ (the translation from Japanese to English is ‘grotesque’ or ‘badly made things’) and were supposedly second class artifacts. Soetsu Yanagi, the founder of the Mingei movement, rebranded it as Mingei folk art, since the phrase ‘gete-mino’ had negative connotations.

Symmetrical perfection, regularity and preciseness are easy to understand, as the standard perception of beauty is based on physical strength. On the other hand, I wonder how and why some people (like myself perhaps) are attracted to the unrefined quality of objects, including some forms of art. These brain books I read might explain how we come to find beauty in ‘unpolished’ work.  Physicality is one kind of strength, but on the other hand, as demonstrated in the high speed sketching of a skilled artist, flexibility, adaptation and plasticity are also strengths. The spontaneous movement of making or drawing projects our unconscious or subconscious mind, whereas the process of polishing and adding more precise detail can actually disguise or delete some quality hidden deep within our mind. Akiko Hirai, May 2016

Akiko Hirai | Home Museum is on show at New Craftsman from 28 May to 2 July. Paintings and prints by Lieke Ritman and screenprints of the work of Lucie Bray accompany the show.

Image: Dry Kohiki Mug, Grey

Share your images of the everyday things that make your place a 

ADAM BUICK Cornish Series_edited-1

Landscape has always been an abiding theme in the arts, in painting most obviously, but in today’s art world previously divergent ideas and disciplines now merge with increasing confidence in the making of new works.

This month artist Adam Buick, on show as part of our spring exhibition, brings ceramics and landscape together in a ‘Cornish Series’ of spellbindingly lovely pieces which demonstrate this disconcerting mix of subject and medium. Exploring ideas around the resource heritage of Cornwall’s rich landscape, his works incorporate minerals, rocks and clay from the Cornish countryside using ‘a single pure jar form as a canvas to map my observations’. Reflecting both visual and tactile ideas of ‘place’, Buick’s work is strongly embedded in the subjective study of landscape and for this exhibition each piece draws upon the geological drama of West Cornwall and St.Ives.

In his large scale Moonjars, sheer weight combines with endless spherical surface and dark inner depth to evoke the sure and boundless breadth of the Cornish landscape. They are reassuringly strong and peaceful, like the earth beneath our feet, like a moment alone and at one with the great outdoors. By contrast, his elegant miniature works, held roundly in the palm of your hand, evoke the light solidity of a beach pebble, the playful weight of a skimming stone, in colours and textures that speak of shifting, prettily patterned sand, of grit and ore and the clean cut of industry through solid rock. Each a self-contained experience of landscape on multiple levels, as a collection they tell the story of Cornwall at its very core.

Image: Adam Buick, Cornish Series miniatures


NC BLOG Rose Lodge

Place is latitudinal and longitudinal within the map of a person’s life. It is temporal and spatial, personal and political. A layered location replete with human histories and memories, place has width as well as depth. It’s about emotions, what surrounds it, what formed it, what happened there, what will happen there.  Lucy Lippard, Lure of the Local; A Sense of Place.

My life without galleries would be hard to imagine but as a curator I look for alternative spaces to engage an audience. With a background as a theatre practitioner I have a strong awareness of storytelling and narrative reflected in the way I approach exhibition making.I am interested in the ‘theatre of space’ as a site for creating interventions and encounters. These itinerant places can be a catalyst for the unexpected making of new connections and discoveries. The interaction of objects within a physical space creates a dialogue with the viewer and informs the interpretation of the work.

A creative partnership with Irish potter Jack Doherty began with, A Place in the World 2012. Here a house, also our home, provided an architectural framework and a domestic context to explore ideas around the social life of objects. Waypoint is our third project together and it has been a delight to work in collaboration with the New Craftsman St Ives to showcase a new body of soda-fired porcelain vessels to create an exhibition extending beyond the boundary of the gallery to connect with key historic sites in St Ives.

Waypoint is presented in three contrasting locations; the ancient mariner’s chapels of St Nicholas and St Leonard and the fishermen’s shelters. These are places used every day by people whose lives are grounded in the community. By placing Doherty’s vessel forms within a specific site, the intention is to create a thoughtful space in which to view the work with sensitivity to the context of place. A sense of place and a personal journey are central to the exhibition. We navigate our way through life making tracks and leaving marks along the way. In his book the Old Ways Robert Macfarlane observes; a walk is only a step away from a story, and every path tells. He describes how paths connect and how ‘they relate places in a literal sense, and by extension they relate people.’

NC BLOG Blessing Cup

Jack Doherty is the last in a generation of seafarers on the north coast of Ireland. He says; ‘My family were fishermen, sailors and boat-builders who made their livelihood in one way and another from the sea. I was to follow my own path. It is from this starting point that I made the work for ‘Waypoint’. The porcelain vessel forms have now become guardians of ideas and emotions, occupying domestic spaces in a different way. We see them in evocative places where they change with the darkness and light and connect with them in moments coloured by our own emotional state. They carry with them messages of everyday life and tell us powerful stories from places without word.

Connecting pots and people Waypoint marks a memory, time and place in a personal journey reflected in the history of a fishing community dominated by the sea.

Sarah Frangleton Curator

Waypoint is on show at New Craftsman from Saturday 5 September to 9 October, with site specific element on show throughout the St Ives September Festival from 12 to 25 September.

Waypoint Guardian Vessel LRes

Images – Top: Rose Lodge | Middle: Blessings Cup | Bottom: Guardian Vessel. Photos by Rebecca Peters



Guest blog by exhibiting artist Hilary Mayo

A teenage boy with a beautiful, beaming face approached me. He had a board hung round his neck on which was a collection of earrings, none of them matching. Each was made from found objects, which he sold to scrape together a living on the streets of Vidigal, one of the many favelas (shanty towns) that clings to a steep hillside in Rio de Janeiro, where life is tough and the cycle of poverty is hard to break. The feather earring I bought is the inspiration behind several vessels in my exhibition at The New Craftsman Gallery.

I met this boy whilst volunteering at the Street Child World Cup in Rio de Janeiro ( ) a charity that uses sport and art to change the lives of street children.

P1030794 LOWRES


This body of work comes from the heart. I returned from Rio very affected by my experience working with street children and I put this into my making. Each vessel tells a story and reflects the landscape of the favelas. I work from photographs and memory. The hand built abstracted forms began life as domestic vessels; pots, pans, jugs; symbolic of home; many show traces of broken handles. Fine rims and cracked glazes suggest fragility, and each is hand painted with many layers of slip, glaze, oxide and stain.


pink building

My interest in the plight of street children began in Durban, South Africa, in 2007 when visiting Umthombo, a local street child charity founded by inspirational couple, Tom Hewitt, MBE, and his wife Mandi, an ex street child with an extraordinary story who grew up on a rubbish dump in South Africa.  Tom’s current project is Surfers Not Street Children a charity that uses surfing to get children off the streets. You can read some of their stories at

See Hilary Mayo’s work at New Craftsman now and until 27th June.




campsite washday lowres

As 2014 draws to a close here at New Craftsman and the New Year is upon us, we have fired up the Hotpod and are taking stock of a year of fantastic exhibitions. It’s been pretty peaceful along Fore Street in December, and now there is a rich purple light from the sweeping Atlantic sky that makes the sand of St Ives Bay glow and the rolling sea turn a vibrant aquamarine. In lots of ways it’s our favourite time of year, when West Cornwall is as dazzlingly colourful as it is in mid-summer, and the beaches and streets are empty and all our own.

This time of year also inspires many of our best New Craftsman artists: in the paintings of NC favourite Neil Davies you can see the awesome energy of winter in Cornwall, with its ominous clouds, blinding shafts of light and wind battered heath land. Painter Emma Jeffryes’ sellout 2014 show was inspired by last winter’s powerful storms, a series of breathtaking weather events that gave a thrilling new feel to her work.

In winter we wait, and watch and enjoy the ice cold beauty of this remote peninsula. Christmas lights sway back and forth above our heads along pretty, cobbled streets and reflect in the harbour at night. Smeaton’s Pier is swallowed by pounding walls of salt water and the higher parts of town take the force of a brutal north wind. To quote Neil Davies on the pleasures of living in Cornwall, ‘there is a sense of timelessness, and of nature being, as it should be, very much in charge.’

It is a time to enjoy the calm, because before long we’ll start looking forward to the warmth and the hustle and bustle that comes with spring and the happy energy of St Ives’ many visitors.

Keeping us company over the next few weeks is a beautiful exhibition of contemporary jewellery by Guy Royle, Breon O’Casey and Paul Preston, and a unique collection of one-off works by the Leach Pottery’s talented studio team. Most fitting for the season are Jenny Ayrton’s icey blocks of contemporary glass, with their precious scenes of homely domesticity, perfect for us as we cosy on down for New Year.

Image: Jenny Ayrton, Campsite Washday (wire and metal in molten glass)


lowres Workshop Fireplace 1946 PHOTO CREDIT LEACH ARCHIVE

Think craft. Think pottery. It’s a no brainer of course, but craft has come such a long way over the last hundred years. A quick glance at finger-on-the-pulse publications like Crafts Magazine demonstrates that the contemporary incarnation of craft now stretches to knitted clocks, automata, and elaborate polyamide vessels. And our culture is all the richer for it.

But always, throughout the pages of every cutting edge magazine and on show at the world’s leading craft shows, ceramics – and pottery in particular – exudes an integrity that other crafts can only dream of.

Here in St Ives we are lucky enough to have one of the most respected and influential studio potteries in the world. Over the last hundred years the Leach Pottery has forged the shape of studio pottery production in the UK and beyond, and today their newly restored studio, museum and gallery are continuing the development of Bernard Leach’s historic legacy, to the very great benefit of 21st Century British ceramics. The Leach Pottery has also played a key role in the history of our own gallery: New Craftsman was originally established by Janet Leach, wife of Bernard Leach, here at 24 Fore Street in 1962, and today these two historically important venues maintain a close working relationship. We are incredibly proud to remain the only St Ives centre stockists of the gorgeous new Leach Tableware, which continues to draw in the pottery faithful from across the world and is the catalyst for so many wonderful conversations with visitors to New Craftsman.

We are also proud to be the main contributor to the Leach Pottery’s recent campaign to bring their historic fireplace back into use, alongside everyone who has pledged funds to relight the Leach fire and put the heart back into the old pottery workshop. The fireplace, which appears in many old photographs, was where Bernard Leach would traditionally sit with his potters, students and apprentices each morning to share ‘crib’ and discuss the finer points of pottery making. As such, it is truly a place of historic importance to the development of 20th Century studio pottery. Who knows where future discussions around that same fireplace will lead us…..

The Leach Pottery fire will finally be relit as part of a celebratory gathering on Friday 24th October, and we will be there to show our support. Watch this space for news and photos from the event.

Image: Bernard Leach (second from left) at the Leach Pottery workshop fireplace 1946, photo courtesy of the Leach Archive


M CHAMBERS works at NC for blog

Shape. Space. Rhythm. These are the key factor in some of the world’s most beautiful objects: the Sydney Opera House; the Aztec Calendar Stone; the breathtakingly beautiful Francoise vase. The power of Op artist Bridget Riley’s work lies in her skilful ordering and distortion of simple shapes. Mondrian’s passion for the dynamic rhythm and disrupted beat of American jazz was the inspiration behind much of his work. Barbara Hepworth’s distinctive sculptures are a perfect balance of positive flowing form and negative central space.

These concepts, and these artists have motivated the work of Royal College of Art graduate Matthew Chambers, whose sculptural ceramics are currently on show here at the gallery. Matthew’s works are created out of a real love of the making process. Apart from astonishing onlookers with the complexity of their construction, they have a look and feel that is entirely unique in contemporary ceramics. Simplicity and complexity, solidity and fragmentation, interior and exterior space, rhythm and the pattern of construction are all explored in Matthew’s work.

Fanform 32cmH £2200

“How on earth does he make them?” is a question we are often asked, and truthfully we’ve absolutely no idea. Do we want to know how these unique pieces come to existence? Well – would you want to disseminate the mechanics of cloud-drift? Or watch Grace Kelly set her hair and rouge her cheeks? No neither would we. In cases like this, awe is everything and ignorance is most certainly bliss. We just prefer to absorb the elegance and artistry of Matthew’s work, and if you feel like joining us come on down to NC and experience something you have never seen before.


Weave 33cmH £2200Revolution Blue 46cm H £3000

Matthew Chambers trained at the Bath School of Art and later the Royal College of Art. He was awarded the Ceramic Review Prize at Ceramic Art London in 2006 and is a Professional Member of Contemporary Applied Arts, London and the CPA of Great Britain. He has shown regularly at New Craftsman St Ives since 2010 and is on show now, throughout the St Ives September Festival and until 12 October.

Matt Chambers at NC for blog

Image top: A few of the works now on show at New Craftsman

Image above: Ceramic artist Matthew Chambers at New Craftsman August 2014


L STYLES Edgy LR for WDpress

Now that the onset of spring is beginning to splash St Ives with colour we are keeping in time with the seasons with a dazzling show of work by one of Cornwall’s best loved and most recognisable ceramic artists. ‘Down by the Sea’ is a new collection of work by Linda Styles, whose practice relates to the exploration of the instinctive and expressive and our endless immersion in the colourful chaos of real life.

West Cornwall has a long and prestigious history in the field of both ceramics and abstract painting, but rarely do you see the two combined; Styles’ gorgeous, quirkily constructed pots and ceramic objects act as canvas for a delightful display of uplifting, energised colour, dramatic mark-making and irreverent imagery.

Several of us here at NC own a Linda Styles pot and have come to regard them as a sort of ‘must have’ contemporary Cornish art collector’s piece. To own one is to give yourself up to Cornwall’s extravagant, visually thrilling side, with all its glittering sunlight, hot white sand, striped awnings and chaotic summer beach life. In the depths of winter these works mark time until the wind changes and warm air pours over us from the south, and in the summer they urge us to ditch the laptop and rush down to the beach in our brightest sun dress to buy ice cream from a palette of mint green, raspberry red and golden vanilla.

In short, Styles work is life affirming stuff. Her joyful ceramics exude a genuine character and warmth that proves, in support of Alain de Botton’s convincing 2013 essay, that Art Can Be (really really) Good For You! Linda has been especially generous with her happy vibe in this show, by creating a collection of uniquely oversize pieces which are currently filling our gallery window with a riot of colour.

‘Down by The Sea’ includes new pots and ceramic wall pieces, and will be on show throughout March.


tree headIt is always wonderful when the long, damp days of our Cornish winter show the first signs of turning to spring. The turquoise and grey landscape gives way to a stream of warm air from the south, and the sudden blossoming of sea-pinks and painted camelias.

And as we at NC busy ourselves with new artworks and rehangs, our first show of the season holds a special excitement and a restored appreciation for the jewel like beauty of the West Cornwall landscape. Spring is here, pouring colour back into St Ives, and this year the works in our Easter exhibition, which brings together three of the South West’s finest painters and craftspeople, are united in their vibrant use of colour.

Ceramicist Jane Muir’s warmly amusing and beautifully crafted figures are brought to life by a palette of rainbow colours, detailed across each surface with precision and a lightness of touch. Blue birds, green butterflies, yellow flowers and a dash of wry humour reflect the season’s optimism. Emma Jeffryes’ multicoloured paintings of St Ives town and harbour not only define the gulf stream explosion of flowers, ocean colours and glowing light that Easter brings, but also the onset of our bustling Cornwall season and some longed for summer sunshine. And artist and craftsman Paul Anderson’s powerful, sculptural furniture is lifted here and there by incongruous strips of vivid colour. They mimic, in a way,  the odd mix of industrial might and seaside prettiness in St Ives harbour, and the striped primary colours of its heavy, working boats.

John Ruskin wrote that “The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most” …….. well we are pure of mind and bright of mood here at NC, ready for a lively season of exhibitions, private views, breezy lunch-runs and sun-hot strolls home after a hard days encounter with colour.

Other colours in store for our 2013 season are: the energetic blues and greens of painter Lucie Bray, the earthy ochres and indigos of ceramicist Sarah Purvey, the ominously beautiful purples and golds of painter Neil Davies, the glossy rainbows of potter Tanya Gomez and the light defeating metal hues of sculptor Terence Coventry.

Image: Garden With Birds by Jane Muir

Jane Muir, Emma Jeffryes & Paul Anderson will be on show from 30th March to 11th May. For more information go to