Despite being one of the oldest art forms in existence, ceramics may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you visit a gallery. Yet despite new exhibitions and up-coming artists evading mainstream news, there is a thriving and diverse ceramics community of both makers and enthusiasts emerging.
With a dedicated Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) in the city centre at York Art Gallery and numerous smaller galleries regularly stocking ceramic artists (including the current exhibition at Lotte Inch Gallery co-curated by celebrity chef Tom Kerridge), York is a great place to start if you’re looking for clay creations.
York Open Studios offered a selection of potters making in all manners of techniques and materials, from traditional hand-formed pieces through to the future of 3D printed pots. Houses and studios were open to the public over two weekends giving visitors the opportunity to meet the artists and see, handle and buy their work.
One of York’s most revered ceramicists, Ben Arnup‘s home featured his graphic clay sculptures which, while three-dimensional, play with perspective, colour and texture with two-dimensional patterns. Their sharp lines, elegant curves, balanced proportions and watercolour hues blur the line between pots for purpose and for pure aesthetics.
Another famous face on York’s ceramics scene is Ruth King, making contemporary slab pottery with salt glazes that give both a subtle patternation and shine. With over 30 years of experience, King’s expertise in coaxing clay by hand into curvaceous ceramic forms really showed in this latest collection, each with its own unique colouration and visual texture thanks to the unpredictable nature of salt glazing.
With a studio at York’s Steiner School, Jane Schaffer‘s space offered both a learning experience as well as a variety of practical ceramic pieces to enjoy. The potter’s wheel was surrounded by single-serving milk jugs, huggable cups and miniature pots inspired by residencies in Japan and Sweden – beautifully simple designs, skilfully crafted and with a practical purpose; just how ceramics should be.
New to the event, Brenda Wright exhibited an enchanting collection of nautical-themed stonewear at the York Cemetery Chapel, with functional pieces inspired by the sea and its inhabitants. Dainty details elevated plates, bowls, mugs and more from the purely practical to decorative additions to any ceramics collection.
Take a look at the York Open Studios website to discover more fantastic artists from this year’s event – and don’t forget to visit in 2018.