The grille motif

There is a recurring motif in our recent cylindrical forms and jug forms: the grille, and with our forthcoming exhibition at Snug Gallery I wanted to share some thoughts on this motif.

Initially, our Cylindrical Forms had two contrasting elements: top and bottom which met at a point usually below the middle of the cylinder; it was tempting to interpret this point as the “horizon” and therefore the top element as sky and the bottom element as land (or sea).

#2. February 2011. SOLD

#2. February 2011. SOLD


Then a third contrasting element arrived – initially in the form of a circle – and the circle seemed like a subject to punctuate and inhabit the landscape. The circle had stability and beautiful purity; the universality of the sun or moon.

james & tilla waters cylindrical forms

#40 Circle Series 1 h: 9.5cm Sold


Now the Cylindrical Forms have become Jug Forms. They are taller and therefore seem to require an elongated motif. The lipped form suggests containing and pouring a liquid. The grille motif is often inclined, de-stabilised with the idea of pouring.

The grille is a development of the label motif, which is the outline of a rectangle with rounded corners. The grille has the same outline but is partially filled-in with evenly spaced, parallel lines, giving it a mechanical, solid but transparent quality. Its role is to interact with the other two (upper and lower) elements.

#109 buoyant grille Jun 15 h. 28cm

#109 buoyant grille Jun 15 h. 28cm


I realise that I have attributed qualities to the three elements which have made them more meaningful to me. I see the upper part as fairly inert and neutral (gas); the lower element as (liquid) random, exciting and dangerous and the grille as (solid) order and control.

Different forms provide a variety of contexts for the grille: sometimes the grille struggles to exist and sometimes it is strong and buoyant. It is the relationships between the elements that animate the forms.

3 thoughts on “The grille motif”

  1. Elspeth Hart


    Your blog is great! I find it so interesting to read your thoughts about your work, and to understand a little of your creative process – especially how you navigate the relationship between surface decoration and the form. I have just begun an year’s apprenticeship working in ceramics with almost no experience, having previously studied fine art, and I am finding your blog a real source of inspiration 🙂 So thank you for writing it!

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