As Fine Art graduates, James and I are generally drawn to making functional things as a refuge from the complexities of Art. However, earlier this year we dedicated a period of time to making pots which are not intended for use. Some of them are already in a private collection and some are being exhibited at The New Craftsman Gallery in St. Ives. The idea with this work is that in abandoning concerns associated with function (scale, weight, tactility, price etc.) we can adopt a more experimental, expressive approach, allowing each piece to exist purely on its aesthetic merits. People tend to ask us the following questions about them:
Why are they “jug” forms?
They evolved from un-glazed pourers. The purity of form in having straight sides and no handle seems to lend itself to more intense surface treatment. The narrower opening at the top emphasises the outside rather than the inside and the spout suggests front and back.
Why aren’t they glazed?
James throws them with coloured clay and I use pigmented slip (liquid clay) as paint. I want that surface to be exposed and clear – glaze would add another layer and the possibility of blurriness and shine which would obscure the surface.
What is going on with the decoration?
There are nearly always two opposing elements: controlled, organised marks (a grid of dots for example) and random physical marks (drips, splatters, scribbles). I like the idea of competition or tension between them and use colour to increase that. These two elements and the relationship between them provide a context in which to explore ideas and mark-making. There are certainly parallels with making paintings but the character of the jug form is my starting point and I enjoy the tricks and teases of its three dimensionality: for example, the way straight lines become curved as they wrap around the form; the way you can’t see the whole at once; the way it casts and catches shadows.
How does this work relate to your functional pots?
I don’t think this recent Jug Form work has prompted any immediate or obvious changes to the way I decorate mugs and teapots but less functional pots (bottles, vases, teabowls) represent an interesting and welcome stepping stone between the two genres.
Also, we are profiled (ten pages!) in the current issue of Crafts Magazine. Please note: we live in Mid-Wales (not North as the article states) and we do not intend to stop making tableware!